Blues News & Rumors: Hofer Extension, All-Star Selection & More
The St. Louis Blues have found themselves with a mixed bag of results this week. After learning that two of their top players would be out of the lineup for at least the next month, the team went on to win its next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils by a combined score of 11-8. Outside of the usual suspects of Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, and Pavel Buchnevich, it has been the veteran forward Brandon Saad who has picked up his performance with three goals and four points in his last two games. If the team intends on making a push for the playoffs, they will need all of the offensive contributions they can get.
O’Reilly and Tarasenko Placed on Injured Reserved List
The Blues experienced two significant blows to their roster as cornerstone forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko were both placed on the injured reserved list. On Jan. 2, the Blues announced that the 31-year-old O’Reilly will be re-evaluated in six weeks from his broken foot, while Tarasenko, 31, will be re-evaluated in four from a broken hand. The season has not gone to plan for O’Reilly who, along with Tarasenko, are both in the final year of their contracts. To date, O’Reilly has scored 10 goals and 16 points in 37 games, winning 53 percent of his faceoffs (349/654), and a 48.8 percent Corsi for percentage. Tarasenko’s 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) rank fourth on the team in total points.
Related: Injured Blues Looking to Veterans for Playoff Push
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As a corresponding move to the injuries, the team inserted forward Logan Brown into the lineup and recalled Jake Neighbours from the Springfield Thunderbirds. Brown appeared in four games through the month of December registering two assists and 9:24 of time on ice. His opportunity was short-lived though after being injured during the team’s morning practice, becoming the fourth player on the team to suffer an injury since Dec. 27. In the wake of his upper-body injury, the Blues recalled forward Nikita Alexandrov from Springfield.
Scandella and Perunovich Making Progress from Injury
Two of the club’s defensemen have resumed skating over the past few days with hopes to join their teammates sooner than later. In a recent article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Matthew DeFranks, prospect defenseman Scott Perunovich opened up to reporters earlier this week about his injury and recovery, saying he was disappointed in himself and felt like he was letting his family, team, and fans down.
“I’ve just been hurt over and over again,” he said. “It’s like ‘Are you serious?’ You get sick of this feeling, and everyone is used to you being hurt the last few years. Just want to go out and be healthy and try and do the best you can.” (from ‘Blues notebook: Return still a ways off for Scott Perunovich, but he’s tired of being hurt,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 2, 2023).
He later commented about teammates being there and supporting him throughout his rehabilitation process and offering words of wisdom, books and movies to take in, and a place to stay by Thomas. “I’ll tell you what, there’s dark times with these injuries and rehabbing away from the team a lot,” Perunovich said. “We’ve got a good group of guys here that come up and talk to you, keep you motivated and keep you happy. Let you know it’s all right when you have tough feelings and you’re emotional. That’s just part of the game and just always having your back.”
His injury rehabilitation timeframe of six months projects him to return sometime around March 2023.
Along with Perunovich, veteran defenseman Marco Scandella continues to make progress in his attempts to return to action as well. On Sept. 20, the Blues announced the 32-year-old was to undergo surgery on his right hip and would be re-evaluated in six months. With the calendar turning to 2023, the team should continue seeing progress made with an anticipated return around March as well.
Blues Extend Goaltender Joel Hofer
The Blues have locked up their backup goaltender for next season by signing Joel Hofer to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750,000. The team currently has Thomas Greiss as the NHL backup goaltender and now has the duo of Binnington and Hofer projected through 2025. This year, Hofer is 11-8-4 through 23 games played with 2.41 goals-against average (GAA) and a .921 save percentage (SV).
Tarasenko Named All-Star
The All-Star casting was announced on Jan. 5 with Tarasenko nominated as the Blues’ representative. The move comes as a bit of a shock as he is not only currently injured, but also currently listed as fifth on the team in scoring. The NHL did confirm that he will be replaced on the All-Star roster due to his injury. The selection is the fourth time he is named an All-Star.
Snuggerud Turning Heads at World Juniors
With the World Juniors officially coming to a close, Team USA and Blues forward prospect Jimmy Snuggerud came away with a bronze medal. Taking his spot on the top-line, right wing position, Snuggerud was named as one of the top-three prospects for the team, along with Arizona Coyotes prospect, Logan Cooley, and New Jersey Devils prospect, Luke Hughes.
The Athletic’s senior NHL prospects writer, Corey Pronman wrote a featured article regarding the top and most disappointing prospects in the World Junior tournament. Of Snuggerud, he said, “Snuggerud especially was consistently impactful from puck drop on Boxing Day through USA’s last shift. He’s had a great season being one of the best players in the first half in the NCAA as well. He lacks ideal foot speed, but as he’s shown in college, he has a lot of skill, can make and finish plays, and competes like a pro. Snuggerud won a lot of battles and created and finished chances for USA.” (from ‘2023 World Juniors standouts and disappointments: Bedard is MVP, but who underwhelmed?,’ The Athletic, Jan 5th, 2023).
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.
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