Blues Need to Call Up Scott Perunovich

The St. Louis Blues are off to a solid 6-1-1 start to the season in 2021-22, with key goaltending and special teams play leading the way. Obviously, the Blues are trying to be careful and conservative when it comes to young talent, but Scott Perunovich is too good not to be with the team right now. The team would only get better by calling him up — the time is now.

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Perunovich Numbers in Springfield are Incredible

Perunovich leads the American Hockey League (AHL) in points among defensemen with a margin of three above the second-best. He’s scored two goals and eight assists in six games, easily over a point per game this season. He has scored more than one point in three of the six games, being a stallion on the back end for the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Even without getting tons of shots on goal, he still has two goals with just eight shots. The Thunderbirds are much better when he is on the ice — he’s a plus-2 in the six games he’s appeared in. He’s a flat-out point-getter and he’s been that at every level. Another key number for Perunovich is that he’s the only defenseman in the top 20 in points within the AHL; he’s ranked 10th.

Perunovich Has Shown Flashes of Brilliance at Every Level

When the Blues drafted Perunovich in the second round in 2018, he was coming off of an 11-goal season with 36 points in 42 games at Minnesota-Duluth. He’s only improved since then, and the development track for him has been perfect with very few issues.

Scott Perunovich (Terry Carite Norton-UMD Athletics)
Scott Perunovich (Terry Carite Norton-UMD Athletics)

In 2018-19, he did struggle to score goals at Minnesota-Duluth, but he still managed to have 29 points overall in 39 games. He broke out after that, with a Hobey Baker campaign in 2019-20 with 40 points in 34 games. He joined Cale Makar and Will Butcher as the other defensemen to win this award since 2010. The Hobey Baker is the most valuable player in the country, which is hard to win as a defenseman if you don’t dominate.

He had shoulder surgery done in February 2021 and missed all of last season, which clearly hasn’t affected him in his return. He was brilliant at the Traverse City tournament, carried that into the preseason, and has now been the best blueliner in the AHL. He could help change the dynamic of the Blues’ defense and would already be one of the four best blueliners on the team, which is something that many folks have said upon watching him.

The Blues Need Help on the Blue Line

The weakest point of the Blues is probably their overall defensive unit, which has been far better than expected this season, but there are still some issues there. We’ve already seen Robert Bortuzzo and Niko Mikkola have their fair share of struggles and healthy scratches.

Scott Perunovich St. Louis Blues
Scott Perunovich, St. Louis Blues, 2018 NHL Entry Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Outside of Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, Justin Faulk, and Jake Walman, there are holes in the Blues’ defense right now. People may disagree with me on Walman, but he’s a brilliant skater with a chance to be a terrific third-pair player with whoever he plays with.

Marco Scandella has been solid, but still not worth the contract that the Blues gave him, which was never a good idea, to begin with. Throw Perunovich in the mix and that could change the trajectory of this team. It shouldn’t matter who Perunovich plays with, but I’d be very interested to see how he would be with Parayko.

The bottom line is the Blues need to bring Perunovich up as soon as possible, which really should be right now. He’s by far the best prospect in the system and it’s not close. If the Blues are serious about making a run this season, which they appear to be, he would only make them better.