Blues’ Season Plans Impacted by Krug’s Long-Term Injury

In what was definitely a surprising move, the St. Louis Blues have announced that defenseman Torey Krug has been placed on the long-term injured reverse (LTIR) with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated in six weeks. In a corresponding move, defenseman Tyler Tucker was recalled from the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Blues’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate.

Torey Krug St. Louis Blues
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Krug headed to the LTIR, the Blues will be missing a key component to their power play, as well as, the offense as a whole. In 31 games this season, Krug has five goals, 12 assists, and a plus/minus of minus-20. He accounted for five assists in his last five games alone and was a plus-3 player. His four power-play goals (PPG) this season ranks second among all defensemen. Prior to his injury, he was pacing for 44 points on the season.

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The news of Krug’s injury seemingly came out of nowhere. He logged 22:57 of ice time against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 23, which was second among all Blues players for that game. With the team being off from Dec. 23 through Dec. 27, it sounds like this injury likely occurred either late in the game against Vegas or during these few days off before they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight (Dec. 27). For what it’s worth, Krug blocked a shot with 40 seconds remaining in overtime and didn’t participate in the shootout that followed.

Blues Have Some Breathing Room

When a player is designated to the LTIR, their salary cap hit is then shifted to their team’s LTIR pool. It’s all very complicated and can be explained in better detail here. With Krug’s salary now being added to the Blues’ LTIR pool, along with the salaries of fellow defensemen Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich, general manager Doug Armstrong has more wiggle room within the salary cap to operate.

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At 16-16-1, the Blues currently sit outside of the playoffs. They’ve been so streaky all season, it’s tough to gauge if they’re a true contender or if they’re better served to start selling off pieces in favor of a rebuild. Transferring Krug’s cap hit to the LTIR gives Armstrong and the front office more flexibility over the next six weeks (or more) to make additions to the roster – whether that’s bringing in a player to help elevate the current roster or taking on salaries from another team in order to facilitate a deal.

Rosen and Tucker Take On Bigger Roles

Fellow left-handed defensemen Calle Rosen and the aforementioned Tucker are likely going to be the recipients of increased ice time during Krug’s absence. Rosen has been with the team all season and is likely going to get the first shot at stepping into Krug’s role. In 17 games, he’s scored six points (two goals, four assists) while being a plus player at plus-9. He’s been a healthy scratch in 16 games this season and hasn’t seen any ice time since Dec. 8.

Calle Rosen St. Louis Blues
Calle Rosen, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

Rookie Tucker has been active for four NHL games this season (zero points). He’s spent the rest of his time in Springfield, where he’s logged 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) and is a plus-five in 24 games. Tucker is seen more as a stay-at-home defender, so it’s not likely he’ll see as many offensive situations (O-zone faceoffs, power play) as Rosen likely will.

Not having Krug in the lineup every day is going to have a significant impact on the Blues. Although he hasn’t been a net-positive defensively this season, having his veteran presence on the ice has been beneficial to the team overall, both in five-on-five, as well as, on the power play. Rosen, Tucker, and possibly others will now have a chance to make a greater impact at the NHL level on a more consistent basis while Krug remains sidelined.

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