Carl Gunnarsson, the St. Louis Blues' newest defenseman, is dealing with the aftermath of offseason hip surgery but said he plans to be back on the ice next month.
"I'm on schedule," he told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week during an interview from Sweden. "I'm just going to be patient with skating and wait a couple of extra weeks. We'll have the best setup for me over there, with the trainer and the strength coach there to assist me."
Gunnarsson was acquired by the Blues from the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 28, the second day of the NHL Draft, in a trade for defenseman Roman Polak. It came about two months after Gunnarsson had surgery on his left hip to repair a labrum tear and help fix a condition he's had since birth.
Defense - STL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 17
SOG: 48 | +/-: 12
"I was born with something on the joint that was causing some impingement, so we shaved it down and then repaired the labrum tear," he said. "It is a struggle sometimes, but in the long run, I think it's going to be the best thing for me, get back healthy and not have to deal with those kind of problems during the season. If I can just be 100 percent healthy for the full season, it's going to improve my game a lot."
Gunnarsson, 27, spent all five of his NHL seasons with Toronto, with 15 goals, 86 points and a plus-14 rating. He had three goals and 17 points in 80 games last season, averaged 19:24 of ice time and was plus-12 on a team that was 26th in goals allowed.
Gunnarsson will be one of five Swedes on the Blues, joining Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen, Magnus Paajarvi and Joakim Lindstrom. He told the newspaper he's been corresponding regularly with Berglund and has heard from Blues captain David Backes.
"Backes called me a couple of days ago, just welcoming me to the team and St. Louis," Gunnarsson said. "He offered some help with whatever I need, if I had some questions about the city, or where to live. That was a great gesture, I really appreciated that."
Gunnarsson is going from a team that has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2004 to one that is expected to contend for a championship. He's eager to get started.
"After the initial shock of being traded, this is going to be great. Looking at the Blues, and the experience I had playing against them, it's going to be fun," he said. "I'm really, really excited to see what this team can do."