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Tarasenko could rejoin Blues in regular season, sooner than thought

Forward recovering from dislocated shoulder skating with St. Louis on regular basis

by Louie Korac / Independent Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko is expected to return for the St. Louis Blues before the end of the regular season, a change in his recovery timeline that was the primary factor in the Blues not being active at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline.

The forward continues to recover from a dislocated left shoulder that required surgery Oct. 29.

"He's skating with the team now on a regular basis," St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong said Tuesday. "That puts him closer to the end of the tunnel than the start of the tunnel. He's still a ways away. I expect him to come on our next road trip out East but not to play, just to assimilate himself with our team, and hopefully when we get back from that, I can sit with he and our doctor and get an update on when we should exactly see a potential return date."

Tarasenko was on the recent road trip at the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild and skated prior to the Blues playing the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. He has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 games this season, and hasn't played since being injured Oct. 24 against the Los Angeles Kings.

There was an original re-evaluation timeline of five months, which would have put Tarasenko's return toward the end of March, but there's a possibility and a belief that could be pushed up to as soon as the middle of March. The Blues' road trip Armstrong referred to ends March 8.

"Our doctors have been through this, we've had a number of players who have had this type of surgery," Armstrong said. "We're not going to thrust him into a situation where he's not capable of defending himself in a corner, in a puck battle, but they are pro athletes and they want to play. He's a key piece of our franchise moving forward, so whether it would be a [Stanley Cup Playoff] game or getting him back in the lineup (in the regular season), he's not going to come back until we're 100 percent comfortable that he's going to be able to protect himself in those situations."

The Blues did not make any trades Monday prior to the deadline. St. Louis (37-17-10), the defending Stanley Cup champion, leads the Central Division by four points over the Dallas Stars.

"We're excited about our positioning heading into the final stretch," Armstrong said. "The trade deadline is passed, this is our team, we're excited about what they've accomplished thus far."

St. Louis did trade for defenseman Marco Scandella on Feb. 18, acquiring him from the Montreal Canadiens for two draft picks in part to replace Jay Bouwmeester, who will not play again this season after having a cardiac episode during a game on Feb. 11.

"We did talk hockey trades but I didn't see anything that made us significantly better to jeopardize any chemistry issues that we had," Armstrong said. "That being said, change happens in hockey, there wasn't anything that made us move to the level of [wanting] to disrupt our core group to make a change."

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