St. Louis Blues’ Carl Gunnarsson Will Make Season Debut Against Dallas Stars


After a longer-than-expected recovery from offseason hip surgery, St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson finally gave the OK to the coaching staff on Monday to insert him into the lineup. He will make his season debut on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

Gunnarsson, who was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on draft weekend this year in exchange for Roman Polak, had been skating with the team all the way back to training camp in a no-contact jersey. As the weeks progressed, he gradually increased the intensity of his practice, but it was becoming more and more mysterious as to why he couldn’t rejoin the lineup. The Blues obviously didn’t count on him missing as much time as he did, as they only carried the minimum six defensemen on the roster to start the season, but they ended up needing enforcements on their west coast road trip last week and recalled prospect Petteri Lindbohm for a one-game stint.

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Altogether, the 27-year-old Gunnarsson missed seven games while recovering. He was certainly a beneficiary of the NHL’s scheduling, as the Blues played much fewer games than most NHL teams in October, getting a four-day break between games on October 11 and 16.

With Gunnarsson returning, the expectation would be that 34-year-old defenseman Jordan Leopold will be taken out of the lineup, as he was scheduled to be the odd man out with the ascension of Ian Cole to top-six status this season. With that said, head coach Ken Hitchcock has had a tendency in the past to be rather impatient with Cole in the past, so it’s possible that we could see the 25-year-old come out of the lineup with his performance having lacked a bit over the past few games.