In attempt to establish blueline protection with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk out day-to-day with a lower body injury, the St. Louis Blues recalled defenseman Chris Butler from the AHL Chicago Wolves. To create room for Butler on the active roster, forward Robby Fabbri was placed on injured reserve. Fabbri is currently out indefinitely while dealing with a concussion.
While the exchange of Butler for Fabbri throws off the Blues’ usual roster composition of 14 forwards and seven defensemen, the move was made out of necessity with the team in the midst of a six-game road trip, the remainder of which will be played in Canada. If the Blues were to suffer an unexpected forward injury, they could insert extra center Scott Gomez into the lineup. With Shattenkirk out, though, the Blues were without an extra defenseman, which could have been costly if a blueliner sustained an injury either in practice or between Thursday and Friday’s back-to-back games in Edmonton and Vancouver.
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The 28-year-old Butler is unlikely to actually play during this stint, unless the Blues want to get a defenseman a rest in the back end of the back-to-back on Friday. Robert Bortuzzo, who has been a healthy scratch for two of the first three games, figures to get some extended ice time while Shattenkirk is injured, which may not even be any longer than Thursday’s game.
Fabbri, who sustained a concussion this past Saturday, has not yet returned to skating and will almost certainly not play on the remainder of the road trip. Assuming that he’s able to earn his spot back from veteran Scottie Upshall, who scored in his Blues debut on Tuesday, Fabbri seems like a candidate to return, at the earliest, in next Saturday’s matchup with the New York Islanders.
This will be the second straight year that Butler, a veteran of 382 NHL games, joins the Blues shortly after the start of the season, as he played 14 games with Chicago in the early part of last year before being called up by the Blues in November. He went on to play 33 NHL games over the remainder of the season, acting as the team’s seventh defenseman for much of the year.
Butler’s stay doesn’t figure to last for the rest of the season like it did in 2014-15, however. If the Blues were to suffer a series of defensive injuries that led to a player from Chicago actually becoming a regular part of the lineup, the first option would likely actually be Petteri Lindbohm, who was sent to the minors to get regular playing time after not cracking the top six out of training camp. The 22-year-old showed the potential to be a real contributor as a rookie last year, and the defensive corps likely wouldn’t fall off much if he were to be inserted into the lineup.