ST. LOUIS — Blues coach Ken Hitchcock delivered some good news regarding injuries to two of the team’s forwards during a radio interview earlier this week.
Talking with Bernie Miklasz during an interview on 101.1 FM ESPN Radio in St. Louis, Hitchcock spoke about Jori Lehtera’s recovery from ankle surgery early last month and the team’s options for replacing injured forward Patrik Berglund over the next few months.
“Lehtera’s not going to be an issue at all,” Hitchcock said. “We’ll have him back sometime during training camp. I don’t know how many exhibition games we’re going to play him in but he’ll be good to go.”
The 27-year-old center impressed in his debut season with the Blues a year ago, racking up 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) in 75 regular season games and then adding two assists in five playoff games.
Berglund, who had surgery on his right shoulder last week, is expected to miss at least four months. But losing the third-line forward will open an opportunity for somebody else.
“Berglund, it’s a loss, but by losing him ahead of anything you can prepare for everything,” Hitchcock said. “So now we know where our competition is defined to. We know what position has to be replaced. We’ve brought in three or four NHL players who are good NHL players who can see if they can grab that spot and we’ll give a real go to guys we think have earned the right, guys like (Ty) Rattie and (Patrick) Cannone and Robby Fabbri and that.
“Losing a player before camp, it’s replaceable unless it’s obviously a top two or three forward. But we’ll be fine and then in January we get a really good player back who is almost like getting a trade for free.”
Rattie and Fabbri are two of the team’s top prospects.
Rattie, a second-round pick in 2011, recorded two points in 11 regular season games last season after appearing in two contests the year before. Fabbri, 19, was the team’s first-round pick in 2014 and impressed during training camp a year ago before returning to his OHL team.
Cannone is a 29-year-old center who has played in the American Hockey League the past four seasons, including with the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, a year ago. He had 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) and was a plus-24 in 59 regular season games with the Wolves last season and added two assists in nine playoff games.