The St. Louis Blues have lost Carl Gunnarsson to injury for the rest of the season. The defender exited early in a recent game against the Los Angeles Kings and did not return. The ailment is to his right knee and will keep Gunnarson out for the rest of the campaign. St. Louis tweeted the news early Tuesday afternoon.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) February 23, 2021
Blues Carl Gunnarsson Injured
Gunnarsson has been a regular presence on St. Louis’ blueline for several seasons, but was having a rough 2020-21 until his injury. The 34-year-old has just two assists in 11 games along with just eight hits and 14 blocks. He was also seeing his lowest average ice time since 2016-17 at 14:55 per contest. Gunnarsson seems like he is in a steep decline as he reaches the middle of his 30s and unrestricted free agency.
The Toronto Maple Leafs originally drafted Gunnarsson in the seventh round of the 2007 Draft after several seasons playing in the Swedish system. Gunnarsson played for Toronto from 2009-10 through 2013-14 before the team traded him to St. Louis that summer for Roman Polak. Overall, the 6’2″, 198-pound Swede has 30 goals and 138 points in 628 games on top of 699 hits and almost 11 blocks. He’s certainly a physical presence that many teams still love to employ in the high-skill era of modern hockey.
How St. Louis Replaces Gunnarsson
It’s not good to lose a player with Gunnarsson’s experience, but St. Louis should be able to survive for now. He was playing fewer minutes than almost every other defender and it shouldn’t be too difficult to cover his 2:38 per game on the penalty-killing unit. Expect a taxi squad defenceman like Jake Walman or Niko Mikkola to step back into the lineup for the next few games.
The sad thing is that this injury could seriously impact Gunnarsson’s future with St. Louis. He will be a free agent after this season and the league will feel the financial impact of the pandemic for years to come. It could result in a very cold market for the veteran skater. His health will be something to monitor closely.