Will T.J. Hensick See NHL Time this Year?
As a whole, the St. Louis Blues are nearly at 100% health. Alex Steen, Kris Russell and Kent Huskins are all quickly traveling down the path to a clean bill of health and Andy McDonald isn't too far behind. While the Blues are fortunate in having so many players nearly back to active duty, it's still necessary to see how things are going in Peoria in case the Blues need to bring someone up. With that we ask - will T.J. Hensick see any NHL time with the Blues in 2011-12? To date we have seen Adam Cracknell (2 games) and Brett Sterling (4 games) make brief cameos at the NHL level. We hopefully (knock on wood) will see the Blues maintain their health but if the injury bug decides to make a cameo, which skater would be the first to be called up? Obviously, it depends on which sort of player needs to be called upon, may it be a scoring forward or more of a physical body. That begs the question to be asked - will we see T.J. Hensick at the NHL level this year? If I had to make a prediction, I don't think we will. This is mostly due to the club's exceptional depth but also because Hensick has struggled when called upon. At the AHL level, Hensick has been a stud. In 2011-12, he has 14 goals and 33 assists for a total of 47 points in 40 games. His points total leads the Rivermen at this stage of the year. With this type of success, why wouldn't the Blues call on him? In his previous exposures at the NHL level Hensick has posted some decent numbers (38 points in 112 games ) and has enjoyed six points in his most recent 20 games. However, while it might not be a totally fair analysis, Hensick has looked lost out on the ice. This is likely due to the fact he is unfamiliar with his teammates and is only given a brief exposure, but the fact of the matter is that he hasn't made a strong impression in the past two seasons with the Blues. In March of 2011, I posted an article about T.J. Hensick titled "Hensick - AHL All-Star, NHL Dud?". This article examines how Hensick lacks the same sort of composure he carries at the AHL level. To be fair, Hensick hasn't seen extended time in the NHL since the 2008-09 season with the Colorado Avalanche so it's really no surprise he hasn't been able to find NHL footing. Still, it's this lack of composure and inability to get involved in the speed of the game at the NHL level that will likely keep Hensick planted in the NHL this season - barring a trade and an extreme rash of injuries. Hensick just hasn't excelled in the intangible areas of the game when he has seen NHL time the previous two seasons. He has looked timid and has shied away from the dirty areas of the ice. Hensick is currently in the first year of a two-year, $1.2 million contract. At the AHL level Hensick will make $105,000 in 2011-12 and $300,000 in 2012-13. I'd love to see Hensick get his chance at the NHL level but it's tough to imagine that this opportunity will come with the Blues at any stage of 2011-12.