Many may have forgotten already, but when the NHL 24-team tournament hits the ice later this summer, the St. Louis Blues would be doing everything it can to defend their Stanley Cup title and try to win a second straight. That might have been somewhat more challenging for the Blues who played much of the season without star scorer Vladimir Tarasenko who underwent shoulder surgery on Oct. 29.
While he was close to coming back before the NHL season was suspended from COVID-19, there was no guarantee how ready Tarasenko would be for the upcoming playoffs. However, with the delay of the playoffs due to the pandemic, Tarasenko should be more than ready to help the Blues this summer, according to head coach Craig Berube on The Athletic’s We Went Blues podcast with Jeremy Rutherford (subscription required).
“He’s good,” said Berube. “Before we stopped, he was ready to come back the next week and play, so, he did a great job of getting himself back. He did a great job with his rehab, along with the training staff, and he kept himself in great shape. He actually came back in better shape than he came to camp (in September) … He’s been on the ice and doing things right now, so he’s ready to go.”
A healthy Tarasenko would be a huge boost to the team’s playoff chances. The team was faring quite well without him though as they have the second-best record in the league and sit at the top of the Western Conference with a 42-29-10 record. The 28-year-old Tarasenko appeared in just 10 games before being injured, posting three goals and 10 points. He was given a five month timetable, which should make him more than prepared to take on a major role whenever play resumes.
- TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal writes that if the Vancouver Canucks want to sign all of their top three unrestricted free agents in Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev, the team will likely have to make some roster moves and send off some of their more expensive contracts (with sweeteners) to free up some cap space. The team is currently right up against the cap and with no other major contracts freeing up in the offseason, the team will have to move someone out. One option would be to find a trade partner for forward Loui Eriksson, who still has two more years at $6MM AAV. A compliance buyout is a possibility that could solve that problem if they become available, but otherwise the Canucks would have to find a taker willing to move some of its cap room to take on Eriksson, who scored just six goals and 13 points in 49 games last season.
- Craig Morgan, formerly of The Athletic, reports a list of the Arizona Coyotes’ players who will be attending training camp as Black Aces. It was recently reported that the team will be bringing in their 2019 first-round pick Victor Soderstrom to serve as a Black Ace. He will be joined by forwards Brayden Burke, Hudson Fasching, Michael Chaput, defenseman Aaron Ness, Kyle Capobianco, Jordan Gross and goaltenders Adin Hill and Ivan Prosvetov.
I love this Black Aces concept. It will be interesting to see how this will play out.
Its not a new concept in the NHL. Once minor league teams are done the big league club often brings in their top prospects to the practice squad. Not likely to play any games unless a couple injuries occur, but brought up to practice at a pro level and then given a better chance at the NHL level next preseason. This year might just expand it because of all minor leagues being shut down.