The St. Louis Blues have lost forward Sammy Blais. After having a hearing today after his hit to Devon Toews‘ head which came in the team’s opening night win against the Colorado Avalanche. For that, the NHL Department of Player Safety suspended the Blues forward for two games.
St. Louis’ Sammy Blais has been suspended for two games for an Illegal Check to the Head on Colorado’s Devon Toews. https://t.co/XpZPbNbRMS
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 15, 2021
Blues Sammy Blais Suspended
Blais had an average first game for 2020-21. He skated for just 9:30 in the opening night victory with no points, one hit, one block, and no special teams play. The 24-year-old has never been a major scoring choice; he has just nine goals and 20 points in 84 NHL games, but his 264 hits and 30 blocks represent a fine bottom-six grinder. The Blues have been built upon a combination of skill and grit depending on the situation. Blais fits that mould perfectly.
The Blues originally drafted Blais in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft and he debuted in 2017-18 for 11 games. He has been a perfectly fine depth piece for St. Louis considering they have relied heavily on veterans to carry much of the scoring load. Blais’ primary role has been to play defensive minutes without allowing goals. He’s largely accomplished that in his brief career.
How the Blues Can Replace Blais
The Blues will be perfectly fine without the 6′-2″ wing for two games due to the suspension. Mackenzie MacEachern is older at 26-years-old but has basically the same set of skills. He has 10 goals, 15 points, 131 hits and 17 blocks in 80 career games. Neither he nor Blais are dynamic offensive threats, but they fit into St. Louis bottom-six scheme that focuses on forechecking and preventing goals.
It’s a shame that the team’s opening game featured a possible suspension for a hit to the head, but the league can’t take any chances on such things. Every hit near or above the shoulders is worth investigating considering how dangerous they can be. It’s good that Toews was able to return after the hit. The punishment could be much worse otherwise.