With Andy McDonald still feeling the effects of Saturday’s collision with the boards, the Blues were in an emergency situation with 11 healthy forwards Wednesday and needed to make a call-up for tonight’s game against Calgary.
In a bit of a surprise move, the club promoted highly regarded prospect Lars Eller, who is playing his first season in North America and has suited up in only 11 games in Peoria. The Blues say that Eller, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, is ready and they expect him to make his debut tonight.
It’s been a bumpy road to the NHL for Eller, who first suffered a wrist injury, then a shoulder injury and this preseason battled a case of mononucleosis. But it all seemed worth it Wednesday when he received news that he was headed to St. Louis.
“I’m a little tense and I’ll probably be a little nervous, but I’ll enjoy it as much as I can,” Eller said. “I hope I can be able to play the same way that I’ve been playing down here (in Peoria).”
Eller, 20, scored three goals and had eight assists in 11 games with the Rivermen. He has been playing on the team’s top line with Yan Stastny and Nick Drazenovic.
“He’s been playing very well,” Peoria coach Davis Payne said. “Right from day one, he’s shown a high level of skill and a high level of ability to make plays with the puck. He’s an explosive skater, he thinks the game and he’s creative.
“He also has a lot of intangibles. He plays physical, grinds it out in the corners and gets in the way of people. A lot of skill players, it’s easy to recognize their ability, but his intangibles are a bright spot.”
The Blues are in an offensive funk following back-to-back shutout losses to Phoenix and Florida. They have also gone 22 consecutive power plays without a goal. That fact played into the team’s decision to call up Eller.
“We just feel that we need offense, and Lars can score, he can move the puck, he’s very quick, so he gives us a little speed,” Blues President John Davidson said. “It’s his first kick at it … let’s see how it goes.”
McDonald, meanwhile, did not practice Wednesday, nor did he skate on his own, as he did before Tuesday’s team practice.
“He’s doing pretty well,” Davidson said. “He won’t be long.”