Shattenkirk activated; Havlat signs; Zubrus
released; Rattie reassigned; Elliott OK; Ott day-to-day
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues were busy making changes to their roster ahead of their road game Saturday against the Nashville Predators.
Foremost, they activated Kevin Shattenkirk from injured-reserve after the defenseman missed the past 10 games with a lower-body injury.
Also, the Blues signed forward Martin Havlat to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 NHL, $200,000 AHL after the 34-year-old spent the past 10 days with the team on a professional tryout. The Blues released 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus from his PTO and assigned Ty Rattie to the Chicago Wolves.
Shattenkirk, who was injured Oct. 13 at Calgary and has three assists on the season, will return to the lineup against the Predators and play alongside Carl Gunnarsson.
"It felt like at any moment you could be back in the lineup or at any moment, you could be waiting another week," Shattenkirk said. "The last week or two has been a good progression. Finally, it's come time to play some hockey.
"We've had some good skates the last few days and I think having an idea of what it felt like kind of at its worst and then how it felt this week in getting back into really regular game type situations and being able to play through it with full confidence was really what it was. As much of a physical aspect as this injury, what kind of came along with it was the mental aspect. Once that got out of your mind, it was easy for me to realize it was OK to go."
What will Shattenkirk bring back to the lineup?
"A lot," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Transition, puck movement, great first pass, competitive guy, especially from the red line in. He's going to bring a lot to our group."
There was some thought Shattenkirk was brought to Chicago to play Wednesday, but that was more as a final hurdle to overcome, which he did.
"That was the goal of that day was to really see where we were," Shattenkirk said. "That's why they brought me there was to skate me hard and to make sure I could get through everything without any pain and without any hesitation. I think obviously we achieved that and getting yesterday to kind of take the day off and know that obviously a day of rest can't be wrong either."
The Blues had gone 0-for-22 on the power play before Jay Bouwmeester scored against the Blackhawks. Shattenkirk will help stabilize that area.
"Obviously the offensive side of it, getting Shatty back is huge," left wing Alexander Steen said. "Power play, he'll be a big piece. We'll have our unit back in place and everybody back where we were before."
Defenseman Chris Butler's reassignment to the Wolves was a good indication that Shattenkirk was ready to return.
* Havlat edges Zubrus -- The Blues chose Havlat over Zubrus because of the versatility that Havlat brings to the lineup they currently possess.
Havlat had five goals and 14 points in 40 games last season with the New Jersey Devils. He has 241 goals and 593 points in 788 games for the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and Devils.
"It's great. It's a great opportunity," Havlat said. "I'm very happy I can be here.
"When I was looking at their roster, I think 'Gomer' (Scott Gomez) was the only guy older than me. (I bring) some experience for sure. I've been in the league for a while now. They know what to expect from me and what they're getting. I was just getting ready for the opportunity and I was working hard to now. Now I'm very happy I can be a part of the team and starting officially today."
Hitchcock said Havlat will make his Blues debut next week, either Tuesday against the Devils or Thursday against the New York Rangers.
"He's an experienced player that can play multiple positions and he can play multiple roles," Hitchcock said of Havlat. "He's going to really help us. ... We're going to play him on the road trip either in New Jersey or in New York. He's a guy that can play up and down the lineup. He's played the one-hole, he's played the three-hole, he's played the four-hole. He knows how to play the game. He's smart, he can play on both ends of the special teams. He was a great penalty killer, he was a really good half wall guy on the power play. He's got a lot of elements.
"I think we have to recognize with all these guys. They've been through the wars before and through unfortunate circumstances, we've put ourselves in a tough spot, but they've come in and helped. We're not expecting them to be like when they were 25 years old and they were stars in the league, but they've given us good, quality minutes. When you take a good look at guys like Gomez and Upshall, they're really good in the locker room. They're really competitive guys. That spirit comes out in the locker room. It's a combination of give us what you've got on the ice and we'll go as long as we can. When you need a rest, we'll pull you out, but they give us a lot of good spirit in the locker room. I think it's really engaging to listen to them say the things they say in the locker room is good for everybody to hear."
The Blues know Havlat from his days within the division playing with the Blackhawks and Wild.
"A lot of skill, quickness, speed, reads the game very well and obviously a lot of experience too," Steen said. "He's good in small spaces, tight areas. He's obviously going to be a lift for us.
"We have some offensive guys that are out right now. We're doing our best to keep the ship afloat. This is a big piece. We're excited to get Marty in."
Added captain David Backes, "He's a world-class player that had a few injury problems, but he seems to be healthy and cruising and he's got tons of skill and the ability to make plays. With our status of the IR, it's all hands-on deck. Management's had the opportunity to bring in a couple veteran players to evaluate them through a PTO and then was able to sign one of them. He'll be in the lineup, kind of baptism by fire and we'll see. It's not easy, I can imagine, going from one team to the next, but no training camp, no warmup for regular season action just thrust into it, but he's played plenty of games. He'll be just fine. We'll bring him along with the group the way we have everyone else and find a way, just find a way."
Zubrus is the kind of player the Blues feel they have enough of. And if those players need to be replaced at any point, they can go to the Wolves to get their replacements.
"Zuby was a good player, but we have those players," Hitchcock said. "We just feel like we have players who can go there, we have players who we can bring up and go there. We needed somebody who can push up the lineup a little bit more."
Rattie, who last played against the Blackhawks, played on the fourth line and was a minus-3 in the game, and having Havlat here made him expendable but more so to play bigger minutes with the Wolves.
"Older players can understand some days you're playing 10 minutes, some days you're playing 15, some days you're playing nine," Hitchcock said. "They can move in and out of that mental zone, which is very difficult for a younger player to get into. It's hard. To ask a younger player to stay focused even though his minutes are limited is very difficult, whereas a veteran player can do that."
Havlat is looking forward to play. He says he's ready to go when called upon.
"I've been skating with the boys the last eight, nine days," Havlat said. "That was very important. Guys helped me a lot.
"St. Louis, when I was on the other side, was one of the toughest opponents to play against, especially in the building at home. That's not changing. Last game was a tough game to come back. There's a lot of injuries, a lot of big guys who are important for them, but they keep winning so that's a very good sign. ... It's always a little harder for me, the first time in this kind of situation. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know what's going top happen tomorrow or couple days or how long you have to wait. It's a little different, but I'm happy I'm here right now and I get a chance to play."
* Elliott OK, Ott day-to-day -- The Blues escaped further serious injury to goalie Brian Elliott and forward Steve Ott, who both departed Wednesday's 6-5 overtime win at Chicago.
Elliott left in the first period after Backes took Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews into him in the goal mouth, and Ott left late in the second period with an upper-body injury, presumably an arm or shoulder injury.
Elliott was on the ice Friday; Ott was not.
"Ells is fine. He's good to go," Hitchcock said. "Ott, I would say Steve's day-to-day. We'll have a better evaluation early next week, but I think he's at the point of being day-to-day."
* Paajarvi's turn -- Left wing Magnus Paajarvi, recalled Wednesday from the Wolves, played one of the better games he's dressed in a Blues uniform against the Blackhawks.
He didn't contribute on the stat sheet offensively, but Hitchcock liked his game, and this gives Paajarvi the chance to stay if he can sustain the game he played Wednesday.
"I think he just needs to play," Hitchcock said. "He needs to just compete. When he competes at a high level like he did the last game, he's a very effective player. If that's the game he's bringing to the table, that's going to really, really help us. That's a very efficient player. That's what we're looking for. Consistency against compete level because he's got so much speed, he's got so much agility on the forecheck. He's a smart offensive player and his competitive level was what it was the last game, that's going to be a good sign for us.
"I don't know about as well (as he's played), but that's the game we expect. If that's the level, and staying at that level on a consistent basis, it's going to endear him to everybody here."