When discussing the team’s hiring of Craig MacTavish as an assistant coach today, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong revealed that forward Alexei Toropchenko underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, putting his availability for the start of the 2022-23 season in doubt.
Toropchenko broke into the NHL later in the 2021-22 season, playing the first 28 games of his career and scoring two goals. He replicated that point production in the playoffs, notching two assists in 12 games. The Russian forward did play in every game, but averaged just 8:50 of ice time per night, down from 10:43 in the regular season.
Drafted in the fourth round (113th overall) in 2017 by the Blues, Toropchenko demonstrated solid defensive play in a fourth-line role, well enough to keep him in a regular lineup role into the playoffs. He’s signed for one more season on a two-way deal at the league minimum ($750,000), helping provide a solid lineup spot on the cheap for the cap-strapped Blues. Of note, Toropchenko is now eligible for waivers, so the only time he could see in the AHL next season without the possibility of getting claimed by another NHL club would be on a conditioning stint after he’s recovered.
There will be an additional spot open in the Blues’ forward core come training camp, giving a slightly higher chance to youngsters like Jake Neighbours to make the opening night roster.