Blues News & Rumors: Krug, Tarasenko, World Juniors & More

Welcome to St. Louis Blues News & Rumors, a weekly article covering all things Blues. The calendar has flipped to 2023, and with 2022 now in the rearview mirror, the team will need to put their work boots on for the rest of the season to push themselves into a playoff position. The Blues have maintained their .500 record entering January with a 17-17-3 record, good enough for 10th in the Western Conference, and 21st in the NHL.

Here’s a look at the news and happenings for the Blues over the past week.

Krug Out With Lower-Body Injury

In a surprising announcement at the beginning of the week, Blues defenseman Torey Krug was placed on the injured reserved list. The injury comes with poor timing for the 31-year-old as he extended his point streak to four games registering five points in that time span. The 2022-23 campaign has not gone according to plan for Krug with a minus-20 rating, the worst among all Blues defensemen.

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

In a corresponding move, the team announced that Springfield Thunderbirds defenseman Tyler Tucker was recalled as a depth option for the club. This season, he has appeared in four games for the Blues averaging 13:01 of time on ice. In Springfield, he has been commonly used as a top-four defenseman and has totaled 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 24 games.

Kyrou Returns to Action

Blues forward Jordan Kyrou returned to action this week after missing two games. His return was well-received scoring a goal in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs to tie the game 4-4 in their eventual 5-4 overtime loss. This season he leads the Blues with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists) in 33 games.

Tarasenko Injures Hand Against Wild

In the first period of Saturday’s (Dec. 31) game against the Minnesota Wild, Vladimir Tarasenko blocked a shot with his right hand. The forward was seen with his glove off on the bench and ultimately did not return in the second period before the team announced he would be out for the remainder of the game. The injury came at a tough time for the Blues as they were playing their Central Division opponent in a tight game that could have propelled them within three points of the Wild in the Central Division standings. This season, he has 10 goals and 29 points with one goal and seven points in his last five games.

Future Uncertain For O’Reilly & Tarasenko

The NHL trade rumors have begun to swirl once more in regard to Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. As two cornerstone pieces of the Blues franchise, their pending unrestricted free agency could be one of the biggest reasons they either keep their stride or take a few steps backward. This past week, there have been conflicting reports and opinions about these two forwards.

Related: Blues Should Be Cautious to Keep or Extend O’Reilly & Tarasenko

Latest News & Highlights

In local media, Blues announcer Darren Pang took to the airwaves on Tuesday morning with 101 ESPN. He was asked about the upcoming trade deadline and his thoughts on whether O’Reilly and Tarasenko would remain with the team. In short, he looked at the track record of general manager Doug Armstrong and that he could keep both forwards if he felt his team could make a playoff push and be in competition come mid-February.

On a national level, The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun said in a recent article that with O’Reilly’s lack of a no-trade clause, it could all but predict the Blues move their captain to retain assets, rather than lose him to free agency for nothing. Before the season, LeBrun reported they would touch base with agent Pat Morris and O’Reilly’s camp in 2023. However, with the teetering play of the team this season and a lack of no-trade protection, teams looking to add offensive reinforcements for the playoffs could begin circling the 31-year-old. He also noted that Tarasenko’s public request for a trade in July 2021 means the likelihood that he re-signs in St. Louis is all but decided (from ‘LeBrun: The latest rumblings on NHL’s pending UFA class, from Pastrnak to Kane/Toews to O’Reilly and more’ The Athletic, Dec 29, 2022).

Snuggerud Showcasing at the World Juniors

The 2023 World Junior Championship is in full swing. Of the players not named Connor Bedard, there has been perhaps no greater conversation surrounding a player at the tournament than that of the Blues’ 2022 first-round draft pick, Jimmy Snuggerud. The 18-year-old forward is making a name for himself early on scoring four goals and seven points in four games, good for third in total points scored at the World Juniors thus far.

Snuggerud is playing in his freshman season with the Minnesota Gophers, showing he has what it takes to be considered among the top prospects in college hockey. This season, he has scored 12 goals and 27 points in 20 games, tied for sixth in the NCAA.

The coming week will see the Blues kick off their four-game road trip Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena at 6 PM CST. For more Blues insight and live interaction, get involved in the conversation on Twitter.

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