Major roster decisions looming in St. Louis

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The Blues have 29 players on their active roster heading into the final preseason stretch, meaning there’s just six cuts left before finalizing the 23-man roster.

Those final six decision don’t expect to be easy.

On defense, rookies Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko, both 22, have played their way into consideration for spots on an already strong blueline. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said their emergence was the preseason’s “biggest story,” while assistant coach Brad Shaw acknowledged what the ramification would be.

“We’re going to have to send down someone who’s a real good hockey player,” Shaw said, per the Post-Dispatch. “That’s great for our depth, tough for the guy that’s not playing here. Whoever is going down has a chance to play a ton of minutes down there and I’m sure they’ll be back there anyway.”

The big three of Alex Pierangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk are locked in for the start of the year. Injuries to Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo paved the way for Edmundson and Parayko to make their marks. Finnish blueliner Petteri Lindbohm is still fully in the mix and veteran Chris Butler cleared waivers today, meaning he’s still an option.

At forward, big decisions also loom.

Two of the club’s prized young prospects, Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri, are pushing for roster spot, while veterans Scottie Upshall and Scott Gomez  continue to stick around on their PTOs (“they’ve earned the right to go right to the end,” Hitchcock said recently.)

This week, more developments — on TSN’s Insider Trading panel, Darren Dreger suggested the Blues were in the market for a top-nine forward.

It wouldn’t be entirely surprising if GM Doug Armstrong had one shakeup — or perhaps a couple shakeups — left in store. He already made some major alternations following April’s playoff disappointment; Barret Jackman was allowed to walk in free agency, T.J. Oshie was traded to Washington, Vladimir Tarasenko was given a massive contract extension and, with it, signaled a changing of the guard.

Armstrong called the Russian sniper a “great building block” that could “help lead us now,” suggesting the Blues might be ready to embrace youth more than they have in the past.