The Blues called up forward Klim Kostin from minor-league affiliate San Antonio on Wednesday, giving the 20-year-old prospect his first crack at playing in the National Hockey League in the regular season.
The Blues have two spots on the roster, and have played their past two games with no spare forwards. The team is auditioning two veteran forwards, Jamie McGinn and Troy Brouwer, for roster spots but they have had only two and one days, respectively, working with the team.
Another top prospect, Jordan Kyrou, who played with the Blues at times last season, is only a week or so into getting back into games after offseason surgery for a kneecap injury.
Kostin was taken by the Blues with the 31st pick, the last of the first round, in the 2017 NHL draft. He's played in 14 games at San Antonio this season, with three goals, five assists and 10 penalty minutes. In his two-plus seasons in the AHL, Kostin has 19 goals, 41 assists and 184 penalty minutes in 147 regular-season games.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said that with San Antonio heading on a trip to Winnipeg and the Blues going into back-to-back games, they wanted to bring someone in.
"Can't get a direct flight if we need a player," Armstrong said via text. "Also, (I) watched him play yesterday in the AHL again and he played well."
Asked if this was just a temporary callup for the weekend, Armstrong said, "Time will tell on that."
The Blues have back-to-back games coming up this weekend, on Friday in Columbus and Saturday at home with Anaheim. The Blues had a brief scare on Tuesday night when Oskar Sundqvist took a stick to the face and had to leave the ice, but he returned to the game soon after and appeared fine after the game.
Whether or not Kostin gets in a game will be up to coach Craig Berube. The Blues are off today, so it won't be clear what their plans are until practice on Thursday before they fly to Columbus. And even then it might not be clear. But Berube will have two chances to put Kostin in a game for his regular-season NHL debut.
In talking about bringing McGinn and Brouwer in for tryouts on Monday, Armstrong said Kostin was getting close, but he also continued to preach patience.
"He looks like he's coming along and certainly someone who's on our radar screen when we need a player," he said.
"Klim's an interesting guy because in reality he should have played his eighth (American Hockey League) game the other day but he went there as an 18- and 19-year-old. I think the process in the public's eye is that he's been down there a long time. He's just a kid. He's a year behind where Kyrou is, we're excited. He would like to get right into the sprint and we're trying to slow him down a little bit."
As a European player, Kostin was able to play in the AHL at an age when North American players can't.
Kostin has played for Russia at the World Junior Championships each of the past two seasons. He was captain last time, with six points in seven games as Russia finished third.