The timing couldn't have been better for Dmitrij Jaskin to rejoin the Chicago Wolves last week. Well, maybe a little better considering he had to fly from St. Louis to Chicago and then jump on Wolves owners to Rochester, N.Y., all in the same day in order to suit up for Friday's Calder Cup playoff opener.
Jaskin not only played, but he scored the winning goal in overtime as the Wolves stole a 4-3 victory over the Americans in Game 1 of the best-of-five series. The Amerks rebounded with a 3-2 victory Saturday to knot the series, which continues Thursday at Allstate Arena.
Coming back to the Wolves was a comfortable move for Jaskin, who scored 15 goals in 42 games with Chicago prior to being recalled by the Blues on March 16.
"You feel like you finally get home," Jaskin said after Monday's practice. "I’ve been here all year with these guys. It feels really nice, for sure, to be here."
Jaskin was sent back from the Blues after being a healthy scratch for the first four games of their series with the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite not playing in the postseason, Jaskin had no complaints about his time in St. Louis.
"It’s still really exciting to be in the NHL and to just watch these guys, and watch all the games and practice with them. I enjoyed it," he said. "Every day we had really good practices so even when I didn’t play, I was still in shape and ready to go. I just needed a couple shifts (with the Wolves) to get back in that game tempo."
Wolves coach John Anderson said the NHL experience helped improve Jaskin's game.
"He’s taken his game to a quicker level, which is good for us," Anderson said. "You have to pay quicker up there or you’ll get killed. (Jaskin's return) just gives us more production. I don’t think we’re a gifted goal-scoring team, so when we’ve got a gifted goal scorer, that’s a plus for us. He plays hard, too. He made some big hits. He’s a strong kid and he’s hard to play against down low."
With the Blues' season ending with Sunday's Game 6 loss in Chicago, the parent organization is already looking toward next season. And Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated Tuesday that Jaskin and Wolves goalie Jake Allen factor prominently for the Blues in 2014-15.
"Dmitrij Jaskin and Jake Allen are going to have jobs," Armstrong said in a news conference Tuesday. "It's for them to lose, not for them to gain. They have jobs now on this roster and it's for them to take that and expand it."
Armstrong also mentioned Wolves rookie Ty Rattie as someone he is keeping a close eye on. But he said the Blues aren't going to rush anybody through the system unless that player is ready for it.
"One of the things that we want to guard against, I think, as an organization is putting players in positions to fail and not to succeed," Armstrong said. "That's not good for their development, that's not good for the franchise.
"Patience is something that you have to show. We have to give them the opportunity, but we're not going to try and jam a square peg into a round hole to say, 'Well look at our average age, it's younger.' That's losing hockey in my opinion."
On Monday, Jaskin indicated he didn't know what the Blues' plans for him were for next year. He also indicated he wasn't going to waste any energy wondering about it.
"It’s no point in thinking about that now," Jaskin said. "My season is still going, so I just have to give 100 percent here. Everybody does."
CRACKNELL EXPECTED BACK, PORTER INELIGIBLE TO RETURN
No official announcement has been made as of Tuesday afternoon, but forward Adam Cracknell is expected to rejoin the Wolves in time for Thursday's Game 3 against the Amerks.
According to Wolves General Manager Wendell Young, Cracknell can be reassigned without being exposed on the waiver wire. The assumption is Cracknell is simply getting some rest after finishing the season with the Blues.
"They could put him on waivers just to see if anybody has interest in him for next year, but he's a free agent in the summer," Young said.
Center Chris Porter will not be back, however. Young said the Blues brought him up before the NHL trade deadline and placed him on the roster, rather than using the recall process. He said the collective bargaining agreement limits the number of recalls an organization can have and St. Louis didn't want to use one on him.
"Those recalls are important if you've got guys injured, or whatever," Young said. "They didn't want to burn one so they just put him on the roster."
The Wolves made several other moves since leaving Rochester after Game 2, but none that are likely to affect the lineup.
Forward Eric Kattelus was returned to Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL on Sunday, and the Blues reassigned defenseman Brett Ponich to the K-Wings on Monday. Both players were sent down to help the K-Wings in their playoff series against Greenville.
The Wolves also released defenseman Henrik Odegaard so he could join Team Norway in the IIFH World Championships. And forward Zach Pochiro was also released from his professional tryout contract.