The hits just keep on coming in St. Louis.
Already without the services of Jamie Langenbrunner, Matt D’Agostini and Alex Steen, the Blues announced defenseman Kris Russell has been sent back to St. Louis to be evaluated by team doctors after suffering an injury resulting in concussion-like symptoms in Nashville on Thursday.
Russell, 24, has been a key part of the St. Louis blueline since coming over from Columbus in November. The slick puck-mover is third amongst all rearguards in goals (five) and plays over 17 minutes a night, often paired with shutdown defenseman Roman Polak.
It’s unclear how long Russell will be out of the lineup but, with him headed back home while the Blues embark on a Western road swing, it’s likely he’ll be out for at least Saturday’s game in Winnipeg and Monday’s tilt in Calgary.
What this does to GM Doug Armstrong’s trade deadline strategy remains to be seen. Former first-round pick Ian Cole has been recalled from AHL Peoria to replace Russell, and given the injuries up front — Langenbrunner’s out for at least three more weeks, nobody’s sure when D’Agostini or Steen will return — Armstrong’s primary objective could’ve been adding depth at forward (though he says he’s strapped by budget.)
But depending on the severity of Russell’s injury, Armstrong might look to add on defense instead. The Blues don’t have much depth beyond Cole, as we’ve seen in the past, going into the playoffs with a thin blueline is risky.