If you were watching the games played in western Canada, and aren’t a die-hard St. Louis Blues fan, you may have noticed there was a stocky, quick, left-handed defenseman helping run the blue line. You may not recognize him since he has only played a handful of NHL games for the Blues, due to the fact that his shoulders seem to be made of glass.
The man in question is Scott Perunovich and he WAS touted as a big defensive prospect for the St. Louis Blues before he had some of the worst injury luck I’ve ever seen for a professional athlete for the last 2-3 years. Just since 2020, Perunovich has torn his labrum, badly fractured his wrist, and fractured his shoulder. All 3 injuries came with a ~6-month recovery timeline.
Now, if you have watched him play you might be wondering why he’s such a big deal. He didn’t exactly look like Cale Makar out there, and he’s not exactly physically intimidating to the other team with his 5’10 170-ish pound frame.
The reason he is such a big deal is because, besides Cale Makar, Perunovich is one of if not the most impressive defensemen to come out of college hockey in recent years. He was the first-ever defenseman from the University of Minnesota-Duluth to win college hockey Rookie of The Year and best offensive defenseman of the year, averaging 0.91 points per game as a defenseman in his time at Minnesota.
If you aren’t aware, Minnesota-Duluth is one of the top college hockey programs. So, being the first to do that there doesn’t come without stiff competition.
He also won a little award called the Hobey Baker Award in 2020. What is the Hobey Baker Award, some of you may ask? Well, essentially Perunovich won the Heisman trophy of college hockey. You also may ask who else won this prestigious award?
Here are some of the Hobey Baker winners since 2014: Johnny Gaudreau (2014), Jack Eichel (2015), Makar (2019), and Cole Caufield (2021). So the year before Perunovich took home the trophy it was the best defenseman in the NHL today, and the year after it was one of the up-and-coming best goal scorers in the league. If you’re on a list with those guys mentioned above, in my opinion, you’re doing something well with your hockey career.
On top of racking up an absurd amount of individual accolades in college, Perunovich is a winner. In his 3 years with the Bulldogs, they made it to the quarterfinals for college hockey, the semi-finals (finals canceled due to Covid), and won the national championship in that order.
I’m not going to sit here and say Perunovich has looked like a Cale Makar out there on the ice in the little number of games he’s played in the last 3 years, but not playing him game six for the first time just makes no sense to me. You know his potential is higher than that of any defensive prospect we’ve had in a long time.
He’s finally healthy and he openly talked about how mentally depressing being in recovery/not playing essentially all of the last 3 years was. Although this season hasn’t been awful so far, what do we have to lose?
This is a transitional year for the Blues. Would I love it if they shoved my words down my throat and made a deep playoff run next spring? Yes.
But right now we don’t seem to be on the same level as say a Colorado or Dallas, and letting a healthy Scotty P finally try and reach his potential might be one of our better shots of getting closer to that level. The worst thing that could happen is we’re as bad as we were last season.
LET THE BOY PLAY.