Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Meet Steve Wagner

"I don't see Steve Wagner going anyplace other than where he is right now, which is one of our leading defensemen," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "He moves the puck well; he's going to be on our power play, we use him killing penalties.

"He skates extremely well and his game is suited to the new style of hockey that's being played."
Given how much of a big business scouting has become, it's pretty tough to come from absolutely nowhere and make the NHL. It's even rarer to do it at age 23, playing significant minutes on the blueline of a team that looks bound for the postseason.

Wagner's an interesting case so far, a kid who looks like he was basically playing in the NCAA to get an education as an automotive engineer. Somewhere along the way, the dream of playing pro hockey for a living started to become part of the equation, and now we've got a top notch coach like Andy Murray saying some pretty nice things about the guy.

Maybe he's no Martin St. Louis, but plus-6 after nine games in your NHL debut isn't too shabby. Heading into training camp, I didn't even think there was an opening on the Blues' back end, and especially not with a guy like David Tanabe in the mix on a tryout, but now Wagner's fourth on the team in ice time, ahead of veterans Bryce Salvador and Matt Walker.

We'll see where he fits in when this team's entirely healthy.

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At 5:12 p.m., October 30, 2007, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

The problem with scouting is that the NHL continues to draft kids well before many of them ever finish developing. Most kids haven't fully grown into their bodies by the time they are drafted, giving some kids (like the Fata brothers) a huge advantage for hitting puberty at like age 6.

Cory Murphy has been a great find for the Florida Panthers, and there are always going to be gems that NHL teams overlook. When teams waste late round picks on 'scrappy' guys or roll the dice on some wispy European, there will always be room for some late-blooming talents to succeed.

At 7:43 p.m., October 30, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

I did watch Wagner for a couple of years, and I certainly never saw an NHL caliber defenseman. Mankato was a terrible team, which didn't help, but he also never really stood out. Mostly, he spent a lot of time in the penalty box.


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