Three nights ago, Blues defenseman Erik Johnson sprained his surgically repaired right knee causing Blues fans and coaches to have nightmares thinking he could be seriously injured once again.
Fortunately for the Blues, Johnson is ready to go and will play tonight against San Jose. Jeremy Rutherford from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gets the low down on what’s up with Johnson’s knee.
Johnson left Wednesday’s game in the first period after colliding with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk. The injury was serious enough that he didn’t return to the game, but he didn’t know the extent of it until meeting with Blues team physician Rick Wright Thursday morning.
“So that’s kind of why it was a pretty frightening thing for me,” Johnson said. “Waking up and seeing the doctor in the morning kind of eased my thoughts a little bit just because he didn’t think it was too serious. We just got the results and thankfully, it was just a strain. That (needing surgery) would have been a heart-breaker for sure.”
Johnson is one of, if not the, key defenseman in the Blues lineup. He’s having an off year this season but he’s the guy that keys their power play and is one of their defensive leaders as well. When Johnson missed all of the 08-09 season after injuring his knee in a golf cart folly during the off-season, his absence was felt in a big way as the defense held the Blues back from advancing further in the playoffs than they did. Going through another situation like that this year with a team that’s very capable of making the playoffs and winning would’ve been heart breaking for such a young team.
Now that he’s healthy he’ll have to work on improving his overall game so guys like youngster Alex Pietrangelo and veteran Carlo Colaiacovo don’t have to carry the burden. Getting improved play from Johnson and captain Eric Brewer would go a long way towards helping Jaroslav Halak return to the kind of play we saw out of him at the start of the season.
Kariya and Selanne, one of NHL’s most dominant duos, enter Hall of Fame together
Paul Kariya probably had to wait a couple of years longer than he should have to get his induction into the Hall of Fame, but it was at least fitting that the wait allowed him to enter alongside his long-time running mate, Teemu Selanne.
Both players were among the class of seven inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday. They spent several years alongside one another in Anaheim (plus one year in Colorado) and were one of the most lethal offensive duos the NHL has ever seen.
The magic they were able to work on the ice together was simply incredible, and at times jaw-dropping.
Selanne said on Monday that he played some of his best years in the NHL alongside Kariya, while added that he would not be getting the call without his years alongside Selanne.
Their production together can not be understated.
Between the 1995-96 and 2000-01 seasons, the years they spent together in Anaheim, 35 percent of the Ducks goals were scored by one of those two players.
What is most incredible about that production is that Kariya only played in 395 out of 492 games due to injury, while Selanne only played in 382 after being acquired in a mid-season trade in 1995 and then traded during the 2001 season.
While Selanne had the ultimate combination of sustained dominance and longevity in his career to make him one of the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorers and point producers, Kariya’s career came to an unfortunate and premature end due to concussion issues. While his final stat line may not stack up among the NHL’s all-time greats, he was one of the league’s most dominant offensive players for more than a decade.
Kariya said on Monday that it took him a year after his retirement to feel normal again, but that he is now no longer having headaches.
He also mentioned that while the NHL seems to be heading in the right direction when it comes to player safety, but that targeted head shots have no place in the game and he would like to see them eliminated.
Yakupov becomes UFA after Blues don’t extend qualifying offer
Nail Yakupov, the first overall draft pick only five years ago, has become an unrestricted free agent.
The 23-year-old winger was not extended a qualifying offer by the St. Louis Blues, thus providing him UFA status. He played 40 games for the Blues in 2016-17, battling a knee injury and scoring just three goals.
Yakupov wants to remain in the NHL, saying in May he has zero plans to return to Russia. It’s possible he could re-sign with the Blues at a lower salary than his qualifying offer would’ve been.
If not, there are 30 other teams he can speak with now.
Yakupov is currently in the conversation with Alexandre Daigle and Patrik Stefan in terms of biggest first overall busts in NHL history.
Forsberg, 24, came to North America in the ’13-14 campaign and has spent most of his time with Columbus’ AHL affiliate. He helped the club capture the Calder Cup in 2016, and that performance was part of the reason Chicago GM Stan Bowman went out and acquired him.
While Forsberg is the favorite for the gig, he’s not a lock. He only has 10 games of NHL experience — a pretty small sample size — and lost out on a similar opportunity with Columbus. Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo were battling to be Sergei Bobrovsky‘s understudy, with Korpisalo eventually winning out.
In other Chicago news, the club gave depth forward Tomas Jurco a one-year extension today. Jurco was acquired from Detroit at last year’s trade deadline and appeared in 13 games for the ‘Hawks, scoring one goal. He didn’t dress for the club’s first-round playoff sweep at the hands of Nashville.
No word yet on financials for either guy.
Wild extend d-man Olofsson — two years, $1.45 million
Speaking of contracts, the Wild opted against making a qualifying offer for d-man Christian Folin. This means he’ll be able to test free agency, though it’s reported Minnesota might try to re-negotiate with him as a UFA.