ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doug Armstrong has been around this game a long time, and the Blues’ general manager never has seen an injury list quite like this.
“This is the largest number of injuries we’ve had to the extent of time they’re going to be out,” he said.
Here’s the updated scorecard, as provided by Armstrong late Monday afternoon in a Zoom call with Blues beat writers and columnists:
• Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder): “We’re hoping and expect that he’ll return sometime this trip.”
• Jacob de la Rose (lower-body injury): “Evaluated in three weeks.”
• Robert Thomas (broken thumb): “Evaluated in four weeks.”
• Ivan Barbashev (ankle): “Evaluated in six weeks.”
• Tyler Bozak (upper-body injury), Colton Parayko (back), Jaden Schwartz (lower-body injury): “Out indefinitely.”
As for Bozak, Parayko and Schwartz, Armstrong added: “That’s probably not as ominous as it sounds. With the type of injuries . . . there’s not a timeline when I know exactly when they’re gonna be back. It could be a week, it could be two weeks. It could be longer.”
So although coach Craig Berube is hoping Bozak might be able to skate on this trip, which has four more games remaining following the Blues’ contest Monday in Anaheim, Calif., Armstrong didn’t sound optimistic about a quick return.
“No,” he said. “He’s indefinite because the type of injury he has, we were hoping he was gonna be playing by now. And it’s just not working out that way.
“I don’t want to say something I can’t back up. But I can’t guarantee he’s gonna skate on this trip. I can’t guarantee he’s not. I can’t guarantee he’s gonna skate in two weeks.”
Bozak has been out since Jan. 26, apparently because of a concussion.
“So the closest guy to coming back is Tarasenko, by a country mile,” Armstrong said.
As productive as Tarasenko has been over the years, he has played only four games since October of 2019 — all in the Edmonton bubble last season. So it’s impossible to predict just how effective he’ll be when he returns.
Armstrong also revealed that Bozak is on long-term injured reserve. (Rather than the “normal” injured reserve list.) What that means is that the Blues don’t have to do any roster re-shuffling to become salary-cap compliant once Tarasenko returns. They’re cap compliant now.
Creating further cap space, Barbashev also has been placed on on LTIR.
Armstrong said Schwartz’s injury happened in-game on Feb. 12 at Arizona, the last game he played.
“It’s something that’s obviously taking a little longer (than expected),” Armstrong said, without providing specifics. “It’s a different injury than we’ve normally seen. And we’re trying to get to the bottom of it. It could just be he needs time.”
Schwartz missed his eighth game Monday. Parayko, because of a back injury, missed his sixth contest. Neither player is on this trip. Armstrong was asked if Parayko might need surgery down the line.
“I think surgery’s the last course of action,” Armstrong said. “We’re trying to stay away from that, but again . . .”
Armstrong had no problem with goalie Jordan Binnington’s, uh, temper tantrum after allowing a soft goal to Evander Kane and getting pulled in the second period of Saturday’s game against San Jose. Binnington got into it with no less than three Sharks on his way off the ice, capped by a “good-bye” shove with San Jose goalie Devan Dubnyk.
“It’s a game. It’s a sport,” Armstrong said. “You love emotion. It’s interesting. As a league we sell emotion, and then when someone shows emotion, people are angry at them. Did he cross the line? Sure. Big deal. It’s not like anybody got hurt. I think people made too big a deal out of it.
“Now maybe I’m a little bit showing my age, but if that’s the worst thing that happens in the NHL this year, I think it’s been a pretty ‘snowflake’ year.”
Goalie Colten Ellis, a third-round draft pick in 2019 who’s having a stellar year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, has signed a three-year entry level contract with the Blues.