For fans of the Blues, hoping that the team can turn the season around, as well as fans of other teams hoping for a chance at acquiring their top players, today’s news comes as a welcome change to the status quo in St. Louis. The Blues announced that three players were back at practice today and looking healthy and ready for game action. Alex Pietrangelo, Carl Gunnarsson, and Robby Fabbri all took the ice today and are expected to return to the lineup as early as tonight, when St. Louis takes on the Edmonton Oilers on the road. “Obviously we missed those guys tremendously”, said teammate Patrick Maroon, one of a number of Blues players who spoke about their excitement to have three difference-makers back at practice. Pietrangelo is clearly the greatest addition to the lineup, but Gunnarsson is also a regular on the Blues blue line and Fabbri has struggled with constant injurie issues for parts of three seasons and St. Louis would like to see him stay healthy for the rest of the campaign. At full strength, the Blues do have plenty of talent on paper and could put together a comeback of sorts this season. However, if that doesn’t happen, the team will continue to take calls on nearly anyone on the roster. GM Doug Armstrong won’t trade anyone whose value has dipped, so getting Pietrangelo and company back to health also improves his asking price should he decide to make some moves down the stretch.
- On a recent appearance on the “31 Thoughts” podcast with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa made it clear that he is not retired. In fact, Bieksa has already committed to play with Team Canada at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland later this month. A strong performance from the 37-year-old could earn him a contract from a contender for the second half of the NHL season. Brian Gionta and Chris Kelly accomplished similar feats after the Olympics last year and Bieksa has the experience and claims to still have the physical conditioning to follow suit. The long-time Vancouver Canuck and Anaheim Duck was unwilling to sign long-term with any team far from his family in California this off-season, but on a half-season deal he will likely be more open to taking the offer that gives him the best chance at an elusive Stanley Cup title.
- After his time with the Boston Bruins didn’t go according to plan due to an early-season injury and a lack of opportunity, Martin Bakos had his contract terminated last week after clearing unconditional waivers. He’s now on to a new opportunity, as HK Sochi of the KHL announced that they have inked Bakos to a contract for the remainder of the season. Bakos has several seasons of KHL experience on his resume, but this is first time playing for one of the league’s many Russian squads after previous stints with HC Bratislava in his native country of Slovakia, as well as a year in China with the Kunlun Red Star. Bakos only managed to record four points in 16 games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, a skilled minor league squad, so it will be interesting to see how he performs on a Sochi roster that lacks much talent up front. Bakos joins recent NHLers Jyrki Jokipakka and Yohann Auvitu in Sochi, hoping to push for a playoff spot with the team this season.