When the St. Louis Blues kick off the 2015-16 season, one player who certainly won’t be in the lineup is center Patrik Berglund.
The Blues announced Thursday afternoon that Berglund, 27, will undergo surgery on his right shoulder following an injury suffered during training for the upcoming campaign. The injury, the Blues announced, stemmed from a shoulder dislocation Berglund had suffered during the 2013-14 season.
Making matters worse for the Blues, though, is that the recovery time for the surgery is lengthy: once the procedure is performed, Berglund will have to wait four months to be re-evaluated, meaning he could miss more than half the season.
Berglund is far removed from his career-best 22-goal, 52-point season, but he has still be an important piece of St. Louis’ depth over the past few seasons. The Swedish winger has two 20-goal seasons under his belt and has been a consistent threat for anywhere from 10 to 15 goals per season in each of his years in the NHL. He’s not a superstar, but his ability to play all three positions — he’s a natural center but spent time on the wing in 2014-15 — makes him an important piece of the Blues’ bottom-six.
The question now for the Blues is who slots in to Berglund’s spot. There are a number of options, but the most interesting would be bringing in 19-year-old Robby Fabbri.
Drafted by the Blues 21st overall in 2014, Fabbri has been a standout in the OHL over the past three seasons. This past season, in just 30 games with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Fabbri was able to score 25 goals and 51 points. This coming after a season in which he potted 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games.
A natural winger, Fabbri could fit alongside Paul Stastny and form a dynamite third-line combination for the Blues. While he’s not the biggest player — he stands 5-foot-10, 170 pounds — he’s got the mobility and playmaking ability that could make him a solid option for the Blues. And considering he almost made the Blues roster out of training camp in 2014-15, there’s a good possibility he could get look at the NHL this season.
Fabbri’s situation is also interesting because if he doesn’t make the NHL roster this season, he can’t be sent down to the AHL. Were he dropped to the OHL, he would instead spend a fourth season in major junior.
Other options in Fabbri’s place could include the likes of proven AHL performers such as Jordan Caron, Magnus Paajarvi or Ty Rattie. But if none of those fit St. Louis’ plans, there is one much more veteran option.
Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reported Thursday that the Blues have invited veteran Scott Gomez to training camp. This past season, Gomez joined the New Jersey Devils after the club was riddled with injuries. Once in the lineup, the 35-year-old scored seven goals, 34 points and boasted the second-best points per game of any Devil in 2014-15. Not bad for a veteran pick-up.
Gomez had been a center for most of his career but he played primarily on the wing in New Jersey. He’s not exactly as explosive offensively as he once was, but the Blues could find much worse than Gomez as a potential replacement, especially considering the price St. Louis could get him at.
While the Berglund injury certainly hurts the Blues, they’ve got a well enough stocked cupboard that the injury shouldn’t be one that threatens their season. With Fabbri and AHL replacements waiting in the wings, plus the potential addition of Gomez, the Blues don’t have to worry about finding someone to fill the spot, they only have to worry about making the right choice.