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Depleted Blues turn to veteran free agents Havlat, Zubrus as potential replacements

Jared Clinton
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Martin Havlat (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Depleted Blues turn to veteran free agents Havlat, Zubrus as potential replacements

Jared Clinton
By:

The Blues inked Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall after both played well on professional tryouts, so St. Louis is going to the well again. This time, the Blues are bringing in Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus on PTOs as potential replacements for injured St. Louis forwards.

The St. Louis Blues are only nine games into the 2015-16 season, but already the injuries have piled up on offense.

Before the season began, center Patrik Berglund was sidelined four months following shoulder surgery. Then it took only two regular season games for rookie Robby Fabbri, who earned a spot with the Blues in part because of Berglund’s absence, to find himself sidelined with a concussion. Then came injuries to Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, who broke bones in their ankle and foot, respectively.

What that has added up to is a Blues team that is making do without three key members of their forward group. But help may be on the way in the form of two veteran talents looking to get another shot in the league: Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus.

The Blues announced Tuesday that both Havlat, 34, and Zubrus, 37, have been invited to join the team on professional tryout contracts, which means one or both could have a shot at inking a deal with St. Louis thanks to the litany of injuries the team’s forwards have suffered.

Havlat was close to a deal this off-season with the Florida Panthers, but talks reportedly fell apart after it appeared a certainty that it would get done. Invited to Panthers training camp on a PTO, Havlat suited up for two games with Florida but didn’t score in either contest. He has a long history with Panthers GM Dale Tallon, however, which may have been Tallon's reasoning for attempting to bring the veteran winger aboard.

In 2014-15, the oft-injured Havlat suited up for 40 games with the veteran-laden New Jersey Devils and managed just five goals and 14 points, which was far and away the worst season of his career. A first-round pick, 26th overall, of the Senators in 1999, Havlat was very effective in his prime and has posted six 20-goal seasons in his career, but his best days are behind him. That said, as a depth option, the Blues could do much worse than Havlat.

As for Zubrus, his invite to training camp might speak to his connection with Blues assistant GM Martin Brodeur, whom Zubrus played with for seven seasons in New Jersey.

Zubrus’ 2014-15 campaign was the worst of his career — he scored four goals and 10 points in 74 games — but he’s only two seasons removed from a 13-goal, 26-point campaign. Again, as a fill in at league minimum, the Blues could do much worse than Zubrus. Whether or not they find a fit for him, though, is another story.

St. Louis has gone to the well with PTOs already this season, signing both Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall to contracts following stellar training camps. Both Gomez and Upshall have been regulars in St. Louis’ lineup, too. In five games, Gomez has averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time but has scored one goal and two points. Upshall has been able to contribute two goals in six outings while averaging 11 minutes per night.

In 2014-15, Brodeur came aboard with the Blues on a PTO following an injury to St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott. Brodeur would appear in just seven games for the Blues, however. Brodeur retired from the NHL less than one month after Elliott returned from injury.

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Depleted Blues turn to veteran free agents Havlat, Zubrus as potential replacements