The St. Louis Blues picked up two more injuries in their most recent game in Dallas. The Blues will now be without two key components for the bulk of the remaining season.
There was a tagline that became popular with the Jaws sequel. It went “Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water.” That has basically become the theme of the 2017-18 St. Louis Blues.
Just when you think something might be going well or turning for the better, reality slaps you in the face. The most recent incarnation of this is St. Louis losing two players in one game.
Bouwmeester has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, even if the team makes the playoffs. He has a hip injury that will keep him away from hockey for four to six months. If it’s on the longer portion of that spectrum, he might not even be ready for training camp, if he even decides to keep playing. He is 34, afterall.
Upshall will miss the majority of the remaining regular season games. He is scheduled to be out at least four weeks. He suffered an MCL sprain and will be re-evaluated after a month. So, in theory, he could be out longer than four weeks.
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At this stage, you wonder if it would make sense for Upshall to return or not. If the four weeks began the day the injury occurred, there would only be four games remaining in the season anyway. It may depend on if the Blues are still pushing for a playoff spot or not. However, if they stay alive with Upshall out, you could make a case to keep him out anyway. He has been one of the few bright spots with his energy and grit, but that only goes so far.
What It Means Going Forward
Although unlikely, it is quite possible both of these players may have suited up for the Blues for the final time. Upshall is a free agent and was already allowed to leave last summer before injuries necessitated his return.
Bouwmeester does still have another year left on his deal, so trading him would be quite difficult. However, given his recent run with injury, retirement or even a potential contract buy out would not be out of the question. Again, that is unlikely, but not impossible.
The buyout issue would be determined by what the Blues think they could gain in the market. Buying out Bouwmeester’s contract would cost them $1.8 million against the cap over the next two seasons following this one.
For this season, it likely means the Blues are done. You can argue that you are only losing a fourth line player and a defender that has not been his best, but the replacements are no upgrades.
Bouwmeester has been through the ringer in terms of fan sentiment. He may have surpassed Barret Jackman in terms of the hate spewed his way, but he is still a far superior player.
Already there have been sentiments online expressing the Blues will be better without him. How?
St. Louis has six defenders, but you’re relying heavily on two rookies at the moment that have had shaky moments. Who do you bring up as insurance that can handle a significant load? Chris Butler was terrible in his couple games this year and Jake Walman definitely needs improving to live up to what the team thinks he can be.
That does not mean Walman won’t be good. Some players take longer to develop. He’s not at Bouwmeester’s level, whether you love or hate Bouw.
Upshall is a bigger loss in terms of energy for this team. The current incarnation of the Blues lacks motivation, energy and determination. Those are all things Upshall brought, so a team lacking in those areas could barely afford to lose what little they had.
Seven goals is not irreplaceable, but Upshall was having a good season. 18 points tied him for the most of his Blues career.
Sadly, his spot will not likely open a hole for some of the prospects. We are likely to simply see more of Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin, both of whom have underwhelmed, to say the least.
Is It The End?
Can the Blues still make the playoffs? If they had a chance before, it has become even slimmer.
The Blues did win games earlier in the season without Bouwmeester. We have come to find out their schedule was fairly weak, however, and they were playing a team game. The Blues are so lost right now it seems hard to imagine them breaking out with an even further depleted lineup.
Maybe they will surprise us. Maybe guys will wake up and do their job for the first time in months. Hope is dwindling and these injuries do not inspire us to believe any more.