The context behind the St. Louis Blues’ call-up of Ivan Barbashev is now clear. The Blues have announced that Jaden Schwartz suffered a right ankle injury in yesterday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. He will be re-evaluated in six weeks, during which time the team will have to lean on Barbashev or another AHL forward as his replacement.
This is a devastating blow for the red-hot Blues. Schwartz has struggled with injuries in the past but has always produced at a high level when healthy. Schwartz has 35 points in 30 games and an incredible +23 rating. Schwartz is currently second on the team in points, goals, and plus/minus behind only linemate Brayden Schenn and tied with Schenn for assists. His impact on special teams can also not be understated.
Schwartz’s absence will be quite the test for St. Louis. While they were fortunate to get Patrik Berglund back from injury before Schwartz went down and have also seen surprising production from the likes of Vladimir Sobotka, Scottie Upshall, and Dmitrij Jaskin, it will still be very difficult to make up for the loss of Schwartz for the next month and a half. Barbashev, the presumptive replacement for Schwartz as a top nine forward, had been held scoreless so far in the NHL this season and Wade Megan and Tage Thompson had the same luck in their short stints. One of those three young forwards needs to step up or else the Blues could see their lead in the Central slip away in no time, with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets right on their tail.