Fans held their breath when Vladimir Sobotka hobbled off the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes. Things looked bleak, but the feeling immediately after the game was that Sobotka would be classified as day-to-day and at worst might miss a couple contests.
Unfortunately, the situation is much more severe. Sobotka was placed on the IR by the Blues and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. The feeling now is that he has a broken kneecap.
The sense this morning was that Sobotka was day-to-day until further evaluation. I'm hearing now that Sobotka has a broken kneecap #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 1, 2014
What does this mean for the Blues?
First, it's important to remember that the Blues have played some of their best hockey while some of their stars were sidelined with injuries. Sobotka wasn't out nearly as long last time, but the Blues perservered even without him, Steen and a plethora of others.
With that being said, this is a major blow. Sobotka is irreplaceable, especially when it comes to the face-off circle. Sobotka has won 60.9% of the draws he has taken. That number not only leads the Blues by a huge margin, it also has been one of the best rates the NHL has seen all season. Sobotka is the man you want on the ice when you need to win a draw.
Who will step up while Sobotka is out and will this influence how the Blues handle the trade deadline? These are two big questions which need answers. When it comes to face-offs, the Blues won't be able to replace Sobotka. It's that simple. They haven't recalled anyone at the time of this article, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Dmitrij Jaskin, Adam Cracknell or Chris Porter heading back to St. Louis.
As for trades, the Blues have been linked to several players. If Sobotka isn't fully recovered (or if he doesn't look like he will recover), the Blues may be more inclined to make a move before the March 5th deadline.
Sadly, this news also means that Sobotka won't be traveling to Sochi.