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Faulk practices with Blues for first time following trade from Hurricanes

Defenseman working to get acclimated to new system before season opener

by Louie Korac / NHL.com independent correspondent

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Justin Faulk practiced with the St. Louis Blues for the first time Wednesday, one day after being traded from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 27-year-old defenseman, who was acquired by St. Louis along with a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for defenseman Joel Edmundson, forward prospect Dominik Bokk and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, was on the ice for an optional practice with one week to get acclimated with the Blues before they open their season against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 2.

"It's nice to be here, it's nice to get it going," said Faulk, who signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension after the trade. "It's playing hockey. That part's the same and that makes it a little easier. [The past 24 hours] have been a little eventful. It's going to take me a few seconds to put names to every face in the organization, but I think I caught most of the guys. I think a lot of them were here today."

 

[RELATED: Faulk traded to Blues by Hurricanes, signs seven-year extension]

 

With the acquisition of the three-time all-star, who joins Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko as St. Louis' right-side defensemen, center Ryan O'Reilly believes the Blues are better equipped in their attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

"He brings tons of stuff. He's such a smart player," O'Reilly said of Faulk. "The way he moves the puck and the way he creates is just so sound, all areas of the ice. I think it brings a lot of confidence back there and I think it helps on the power play too. He's very dynamic ... (He) definitely makes us a lot better.

"Sometimes the way contracts work, things have to be adjusted. To get that done, I think, is a huge thing for us. It's not good enough just to win (the Stanley Cup) once. You've got to keep going. We want to win every chance we can."

Blues forward Jaden Schwartz has an extensive knowledge of Faulk, having played against each other since college in 2010-11 when Faulk was at the University of Minnesota Duluth and Schwartz was at Colorado College.

"It's a big piece for us. He's a really good player," Schwartz said. "He can defend, he's really good on the power play, he's got a great shot. You see how well he played in that top pair in Carolina. I think it gives us a boost. We're going to need him down the stretch. You look at our D now, we've got a lot of different options right now and a really good back end."

Video: Faulk arrives in STL, meets new teammates

In eight NHL seasons, all previously with Carolina, Faulk has 258 points (85 goals, 173 assists) in 559 games, including 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games last season. Nearly half of Faulk's career goals (40) and more than half of his assists (102) have come on the power play, where he'll look to improve a unit that was 10th in the NHL last season (21.1 percent).

"He's obviously a very good player and makes us a better hockey team," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He's got a good shot. We'll get him moving here [Wednesday], obviously try to get him in a couple preseason games here before it's over."

Faulk, who arrived in St. Louis on Tuesday during the Blues' 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, said he isn't sure how many of the three remaining preseason games he'll play in, but he's ready to do whatever is needed to get acclimated to the new system.

"I think my game's been pretty good at both ends," Faulk said. "Obviously, the power play's been one of my specialties in my time throughout the League. I think I shoot the puck really well and I've scored a good amount of goals in my career. … If that's what's needed, I'm more than happy to lend my services and continue on with that, and if not, and if I'm put in a different spot, that's fine too. Just trying to bring a game that's going to be tough to play against and all over the ice. I like to play the game hard too, I think. That's the fun part of the League. I'm just going to try and be consistent and do whatever the team asks of me and whatever is needed."

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