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Perunovich set to make NHL debut

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

Scott Perunovich is here.

The St. Louis Blues recalled Perunovich from their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, on Monday morning, and now he will make his NHL regular-season debut on Tuesday night when the Blues host the Arizona Coyotes at Enterprise Center.

The 23-year-old defenseman has been tearing up the American Hockey League this season, posting 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 12 games. As of Monday, Perunovich was tied for the league-lead in points - as a defenseman.

According to sportsnet.ca, Perunovich is "widely regarded as one of the best blueliners currently not in the NHL."

In 2020, Perunovich won the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in NCAA college hockey. That season, he led the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) and was named the NCHC Player of the Year. Perunovich helped the University of Minnesota Duluth to two consecutive NCAA championships during his collegiate career, and his chance at a third was halted in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soon after winning the Hobey Baker, the Blues' second round pick (No. 45 overall) in 2018 signed a two-year entry-level deal with St. Louis.

A shoulder injury kept Perunovich from possibly debuting during the 2020-21 season, and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said salary cap restrictions prevented him from being recalled earlier this season when the team was dealing with two defensemen - Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola - in COVID-19 protocols. Krug will return to the lineup Tuesday vs. Arizona.

With Perunovich recalled, the Blues assigned goalie Joel Hofer, forward Dakota Joshua and defenseman Calle Rosen to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Monday.

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