ST. LOUIS - Vladimir Sobotka could be in the lineup this afternoon when the Blues host the Colorado Avalanche in the final game of the regular season. (5 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
Sobotka skated with the team on Saturday in Carolina but didn't play against the Hurricanes. Just a day earlier, the 29-year-old forwarded boarded a 10-hour flight from Prague to Raleigh before undergoing a physical and signing a three-year contract extension with the Blues. He's had just two quick practices with the Blues and hasn't played in a game since his Kontinental Hockey League season with Omsk Avangard ended on March 19.
After Saturday's practice in Carolina, Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo said he was hopeful that Sobotka would play today.
"We had said we would use this skate (Saturday) to determine if he was ready," Yeo said. "We felt one more day would be best for him… He's been off the ice for awhile so it's pretty tough to have two quick skates and then hop into a game."
With back-to-back games and the early start time, the Blues did not hold a morning skate on Sunday, so it won't be known whether Sobotka will play until closer to game time.
If Sobotka plays, it would be his first game with the Blues in three years. Since that time, he has played three seasons in the KHL, posting 102 points (37 goals, 65 assists) in 138 games. Last season, he netted 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 41 regular season games and 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 12 postseason games.
Sobotka is currently honoring the one-year arbitration award he received in 2014. His three-year extension begins with the start of the 2017-18 season.
Video: Blues look forward to playing with Sobotka
"It feels great. I'm excited and I'm happy to be part of the Blues again," Sobotka said after meeting the team in Raleigh. "I'm really excited to get that first game in."
On Saturday, Sobotka skated at left wing alongside Alexander Steen and Magnus Paajarvi, so if he's in the lineup, it's likely that's where he would play.
"A lot of us are familiar with him. He brings a lot to the table," Steen said. "He's incredibly intelligent on the ice, he's got great awareness and hockey sense. He's competitive, he's quick on his feet and he's got a good stick, too. It's a big lift for our club."
"If we get the chance to play together, that would be awesome," Paajarvi said. "It would be nice for him to get a game or two before playoffs and for us too, as well… it's awesome to have him here."
With Paul Stastny labeled week to week with a lower-body injury and Robby Fabbri out for the season, Sobotka's addition up front couldn't come at a better time as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach.
"He's a really good player," Paajarvi added. "Super solid, has grit and a good stick, good shot. And he knows what it's like to play on this team."