Blues Weekly: Perunovich, Preseason, Chychrun & More

The St. Louis Blues are less than two weeks away from opening up the 2022-23 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The preseason rolls on, and the Blues are looking to fill out their roster.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

The Blues’ preseason has been filled with surprising performances from veteran players and one major injury. They have three preseason games left before a week off and then the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Related: 3 Bold Predictions for the St. Louis Blues in 2022-23

Perunovich Injured in Preseason Game

Last Tuesday, Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich was injured against the Chicago Blackhawks after being shoved into the boards. The biggest concern here is his injury history and the fact that there hasn’t been any significant update about the injury yet. Perunovich underwent wrist surgery in March 2022 after playing 19 regular-season games in 2021-22. There’s no reason to speculate, but based on Perunovich’s reaction to the play, it could be the same wrist he had surgery on. With no significant update from the organization, it’s safe to assume that Perunovich will miss time when the regular season begins.

This is a major hit to the Blues’ expectations for this season. Perunovich was supposed to be a fixture on the power play and show the ability that we’ve seen from him at college and in the minors. This will open up opportunities for defensemen like Niko Mikkola, Calle Rosen, or even Tyler Tucker to shine in the third-pairing role. It will also put more weight on Torey Krug to be the offensive playmaker from the back-end as Perunovich has a similar style. Hopefully, this isn’t a long-term injury, and Perunovich can be back on the ice soon.

Notes From Last Week’s Preseason Games

The Blues went 2-1-0 in last week’s preseason action with wins over the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks plus a loss to the Dallas Stars in Independence, MO. The Blues got quality goaltending from Jordan Binnington against the Blackhawks with 20 saves on 21 shots. Ryan O’Reilly had three points, including the first goal of the game in Chicago. In their win over the Blue Jackets, the line of Robert Thomas, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Pavel Buchnevich continued to shine. There is zero doubt that they should be rolled out when the season begins – they create so many offensive chances.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was also a solid game from backup goaltender Thomas Greiss, who saved 23 of 25 shots. Tyler Pitlick continues to prove he’s worth a one-year contract as he had two points in this win. If Pitlick gets a roster spot, it would be the second time in three seasons that a player on a professional tryout (PTO) earns a one-year deal with the Blues. Mike Hoffman did it ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Blues did not perform well against the Stars, losing 5-2. It was another solid performance from Logan Brown, who scored a goal; he now has four goals in the preseason.

Overall, the clear standouts have been Brown and Pitlick with flashes of brilliance from Jake Neighbours as well. However, Klim Kostin has been a disappointment and may end up being waived before the 2022-23 season begins. It’s clear that the organization wants to see more from him if they intend to keep him. As it stands, the Blues’ final four lineup spots could go to Brown, Pitlick, Neighbours, and Noel Acciari, and I would not be surprised to see that happen. Another notable roster move was moving 2021 first-round pick, Zachary Bolduc, back to juniors for one more season – also not a surprise. The Blues have three more preseason games with lots of interesting competition ahead.

Blues Could Target Coyotes’ Chychrun

With the injury to Perunovich, the Blues could finally make a major play for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. The team is interested in Chychrun, but that hasn’t led to serious talks overall. I don’t see the Blues making this big of a move with the season just under two weeks away. They appear to be set on defense with Mikkola and Rosen sliding into roles as the sixth and seventh defensemen with one of them sitting in the press box. Although Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong worked together for years, that won’t be a driving force behind a deal.

As good as Chychrun is, a move like this should happen at the deadline or during the offseason. The season will arrive quickly, and a deal of this magnitude takes way more time than 12 days to get done. I have zero problems sticking with Mikkola, Rosen, and others, as long as they are honest about what is working. If Mikkola and Rosen struggle, I’d like to see Tucker get a chance to make a name for himself. Overall, I don’t see the Blues targeting Chychrun right now. They could explore it down the road, but it just doesn’t make sense at the moment.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: vs. Minnesota Wild, 7 PM
  • Thursday: at Columbus Blue Jackets, 6 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7 PM

The preseason will finish with the Blues playing two of three games on home ice, and the biggest roster spot competition will come down to these three games. After it’s done, the Blues have six days off before opening the 2022-23 season on home ice against the Blue Jackets. The season is almost here, and our Blues coverage at The Hockey Writers won’t stop anytime soon.

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