Blues' top prospect hoping to turn some heads; Hitchcock looks for chemistry

News-DemocratSeptember 12, 2013 

The St. Louis Blues on Thursday opened their training camp. Here's a view from the ice.


— With few roster spots available, St. Louis Blues forward prospect Ty Rattie talked Thursday about doing things to help get noticed.

Rattie laid the groundwork during the last two seasons when he was racking up 105 goals and 231 points in 131 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

He also had 39 goals and 69 points in 42 playoff contests, so the 5-foot-11, 165-pound winger has definitely proven his scoring pedigree.

On the first day of training camp Thursday, Rattie found himself on a line with two of the Blues' top players, captain David Backes and Alexander Steen.

It was tough not to notice that.

"Yeah, pretty cool," Rattie said. "Obviously the captain of the Blues and one of the better players with the Blues. I was out there watching them and soaking it all up, looking at their game and trying to add that to my game. Become a better player."

Rattie and 51 other players hit the ice Thursday at Scottrade Center and like many rookies, he admitted feeling more than a bit nervous.

"So far, so good," Rattie said. "The first day's always the toughest on the nerves going out there, but it's over now. You learn what you got today and apply it to your game tomorrow."

As one of the Blues' elite prospects, Rattie was part of the St. Louis squad at the recent Prospects Tournament held in Traverse City, Mich.

"Going in there the second time you're a little more at ease and know guys a little bit," said Rattie, who tied Sebastian Wannstrom for the team-scoring lead with three goals and four points in four games. "It's a good tournament to get your feet wet; it's kind of a warmup tournament for this and now you've really got to show your stuff.

"This is where you've got to really battle the older, stronger guys."

Rattie realizes his season may begin in the minors, but he's doing everything he can to leave a good impression on the organization.

"It's obviously going to be hard with a deep St. Louis team here, but you've got to go out there and impress the right people and play your game," Rattie said. "Being with Backes and Steen helped me out a lot. Any drills I didn't know I went straight to them and they were setting me up."

There is also a wide gap between NHL players and those WHL defenders that Rattie shredded on a regular basis.

"There's no time (here), you've got to make a pass right away, make a play right away," he said. "You've got to be a 200-foot player on the Blues and I've been working on my defensive game.

"I worked on it a lot last year and I feel I'm coming to camp a better two-way player, so I'm going to show that off and show I can play in the D-zone."

Around the rink

As expected, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock didn't waste time in trying to find some chemistry from potential linemates. Along with Backes and Steen, he used Patrik Berglund centering Vladimir Tarasenko and newcomer Magnus Paajarvi and had new Blues center Derek Roy working with winger Chris Stewart.

With the holdout of Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk got a lot of time on the top defense pairing with Jay Bouwmeester.

In the lone camp roster move, defenseman Nicholas Walters was assigned to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

* Paajarvi spoke about the difference between being with the Blues and the team he played with previously, the Edmonton Oilers.

"It's a huge difference," Paajarvi said Thursday. "I can really tell, here everybody talks about the (Stanley) Cup. Everybody talks about being a contender and being in the playoffs is just another step.

"In Edmonton it was going to the playoffs and trying to make the playoffs, so it's definitely a couple steps up."

*Blues strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte released the results of the team's preseason fitness testing on his Twitter account.

Roman Polak was a repeat winner, followed by Yannick Veilleux, Ryan Reaves, Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Porter. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong mentioned several times during the offseason about Tarasenko's better conditioning and the testing bore that out.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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