The Post-Dispatch ran a great article the other day on how well Alex Pietrangelo
is performing in the OHL playoffs for the Barrie Colts. Traded to the Colts late in the year, Pietrangelo has been a frequent contributor to the offense. Will we see the youngster up with the Blues for the full year in 2010-11?
The article, here, goes on to explain how the deal midseason brought the defenseman over to an elite club and is fast tracking his learning of the game of hockey. Pietrangelo posted 29 points over 25 regular season games with the Colts while adding 13 through 14 playoff games.
The Blues decision to only allow Pietrangelo to skate in nine games before being sent down last season was met with a mixed reaction from the fan base. Fans greatly desire to see the highly touted prospect, along with Lars Eller, in a permanent home on the Blues NHL roster. Looking back, it appears the team's decision to wait with Pietrangelo is not only a smart one, but is starting to look like a brilliant one as he experiences valuable playoff experience.
With Pietrangelo thriving in the minors, the question will once again be asked: Is it time to bring him into the NHL mix full time? The argument in favor of finding him a home on the blue line is a strong one, based on the skills he is showing in Barrie's playoff run and the fact the Blues could use all the help they could get both defensively and offensively.
The case in favor of keeping Pietrangelo in the minors is strong, but tough to make a case for given the current state of the NHL roster. Allowing a young talent to remain in the minors and learn as much as possible is valuable to the growing process and one that shouldn't be rushed, if possible.
His role last season in the NHL over the course of nine games was limited for a defenseman, skating an average of 16 and a half minutes per game. The Blues did have a wealth of options at the blueline last year, so it makes sense that the team would rather have their prospect skate regularly in the lower levels than have him spend a considerable amount of time riding the pine.
In my opinion, I'd like to go into the training camp giving Pietrangelo every chance to make his case for the NHL squad. Honestly, I'd probably be looking for any indication that he isn't ready, rather than the other way around. Assuming things go well and no injury issues arise, I fully expect 2010-2011 to be the season we see one of the organization's best prospects make his full debut as a regular skater.