How Could Jaden Schwartz’s Injury Affect St. Louis Blues’ Roster Composition?


The St. Louis Blues placed forward Jaden Schwartz on injured reserve on Wednesday with what is believed to be a broken foot. Due to the lack of an officially announced diagnosis, it’s difficult to know how much time he’ll miss, though the team announced that he would be out on a week-to-week basis.

For reference, we’ll examine a few recent instances of this type of injury that the Blues have experienced. Defenseman Roman Polak missed 10 games last season with a lower-body injury that was widely thought to be a fractured foot. Veteran forward Jamie Langenbrunner missed 10 games with what was officially announced to be a broken foot in 2011-12. Granted, he was 36 years old at the time, meaning that his potential for quick recovery was likely a lot lower than the 22-year-old Schwartz’s is.

Obviously every injury is different and it’s difficult to estimate when one particular player is going to make a return, especially without official knowledge of what the injury is. But if we use the cases of Polak and Langenbrunner to create a rough estimate of 10 games that Schwartz will miss, that would mean that he would return around January 10, when the Blues face off against the Carolina Hurricanes. That means that the Blues would be without him for approximately 23 days.

If there’s any positive to be taken away from Schwartz’s injury, it’s that the Blues will have more roster flexibility over the next few weeks, which could be a plus considering the current logjam of talent that they’re dealing with.

The Blues recalled Dmitrij Jaskin from AHL Chicago to fill Schwartz’s spot on the roster Wednesday, though it’s not a certainty that the 21-year-old will stay up with the NHL club for the duration of Schwartz’s injury. The Blues have rebounded from an early-season period of struggle during which Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie both suffered long-term injuries and the entire team dealt the spread with a bacterial infection. Since they returned to full strength up front, the team has generally employed the same group of 12 forwards on a nightly basis.

To illustrate how consistent things have been, reserve forward Magnus Paajarvi has played in just 10 of the Blues’ first 31 games despite being healthy and on the roster for the entire time. Chris Porter has been with the NHL club the whole time and has played in just 11 games, though his recent surge has forced Joakim Lindstrom to the press box on a more regular basis.

With this in mind, it doesn’t seem to be a necessity at the moment for the Blues to have 14 forwards on their roster all the time. That could be an important fact to consider with defenseman Carl Gunnarsson seeming to be close to returning from a concussion.

The Blues have recently employed a rotation of two spots among three defensemen: Ian Cole, Chris Butler, and Petteri Lindbohm. At 21 years old and in his first season in America, Lindbohm would be by far the most likely candidate to go back to the AHL upon Gunnarsson’s return, considering that he has already spent time there this year and wouldn’t have to go through waivers to go to the minors, as Butler and Cole have.

More from St. Louis Blues

However, there’s one problem with that solution: Lindbohm appears to be the most consistent of the three. While he has yet to register a point, Lindbohm has provided a tremendous amount of physicality and has prevented several would-be goals with his reliable play in front of the net. While Cole and Butler have taken turns being the healthy scratch, even though both have performed well, Lindbohm has continued to stay in the lineup and has played in six straight games since his recall on December 4.

If Lindbohm keeps it up, it’s conceivable that the Blues could keep him around and go with eight defensemen for the time being once Gunnarsson returns. That would result in the demotion of Jaskin, but if they happened to have an issue with forward depth on a particular night, they could always go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, as they have done several times this year, even when they’ve had extra healthy forwards at their disposal. If nothing else, the extra time could give the team time to evaluate whether a part-time player like Cole could be worth trying to trade.

Another tough upcoming roster decision which could be delayed by Schwartz’s injury is the Blues’ goaltending situation. The Blues added 42-year-old Martin Brodeur, arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, earlier this month after regular starter Brian Elliott went down with a lower-body injury. In recent days, goaltender Elliott has been back on the ice and slowly working himself back into game shape. Elliott may still be several weeks away from a return, but if Schwartz is still hurt when Elliott is ready to come back, it’s worth wondering whether the Blues might use their easily-openable roster spot to put off the uncomfortable decision on trading or releasing Brodeur. It wouldn’t necessarily be practical to have a goalie in the press box on a nightly basis, especially if it was someone like Brodeur who has no upside going forward, but since he has played very well in his time in a Blues uniform, the team may want to take all the time they can to make sure that Elliott is completely healthy.

While the Blues will need to work harder to make sure they’re getting sufficient offensive production without Schwartz, his absence from the roster may be able to delay several roster decisions that could turn out to be crucial as the season plays out.

Next: What Was the Best Team in St. Louis During 2014?