Days before opening training camp, the St. Louis Blues have a hole to fill on their blue line.
Defenseman Marco Scandella is expected to miss a majority of the coming NHL season after undergoing surgery on his right hip joint. He got injured during offseason training in late August and will be re-evaluated in six months.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced the timeline for Scandella’s absence. The first on-ice sessions of camp are scheduled with the season opener set for Oct. 15.
The injury to Scandella is another change at a position that has undergone a near-complete overhaul since St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Only top-pairing defenseman Colton Parayko and veteran grinder Robert Bortuzzo are left from that group, which now features Torey Krug and Justin Faulk in prominent roles.
Scandella, 32, is expected to go on long-term injured reserve, giving the Blues relief for his salary cap hit of $3.275 million. Nikko Mikkola already figured to take on a full-time role at 26, and it wasn’t immediately clear if Armstrong might bring in another veteran to compete for a roster spot.
The injury could provide an opportunity for 24-year-old prospect Scott Perunovich, who played in 26 NHL games last season. Perunovich, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the top college hockey player in the country while at Minnesota-Duluth in 2019-20, impressed teammates during his first year in the pros, especially while running the power play.
“He moves the puck at the right time,” said forward Robert Thomas, who signed an eight-year, $65 million contract this summer. “He’s smart. I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed for a guy just coming in the league, he’s so patient and calm, especially breaking the puck out. He loves to skate it out. He loves to make a quick first pass and, yeah, I think he’s got tons of potential.”
Scandella joined the Blues in a trade from the Canadiens before the deadline in 2020. He has played in 755 games with Minnesota, Buffalo, Montreal and St. Louis.