(HockeyStL) -- After missing 26 games with a hand injury, defenseman Jordan Leopold has been activated from injured reserve by the Blues.
Leopold’s last game with the Blues was on Nov. 7. He has been sidelined ever since with a ligament injury, which required surgery to repair. Before his injury, Leopold had played in 13 games and had two assists.
Leopold is the second Blues player to be activated from IR in as many days. Forward Ryan Reaves was activated on Thursday and he made his return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Kings. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said on Wednesday that Leopold would be handled differently, and wasn’t expected to be a player for a few more games.
“First of all, we like the way (Ian) Cole and (Carlo) Colaiacovo are playing,” Hitchcock said on Wednesday. “With a guy like Leopold it is a bit different than it is with ‘Reavo’. ‘Reavo’ can be effective playing anywhere from between eight and 12 minutes. ‘Leo’ has to play a lot more than that. We might take our time and have a couple of more skates with him before we decide what to do.”
Leopold was a top-four defenseman for the Blues before his injury. He was spending most of his time paired with Kevin Shattenkirk and he was averaging nearly 16 minutes of ice time per game. However, Hitchcock wasn’t currently prepared to reinsert him into that role.
“When (he) is cleared, he is available for selection, it doesn’t mean (he) is in yet,” said Hitchcock.
However, according to reports from Friday’s practice, the coach may have had a change of view and he didn’t rule out the possibility of Leopold playing Saturday against Columbus.
Leopold has been skating for several weeks and recently turned up his practice intensity. The defenseman has been ready for return for a few days but was awaiting clearance from doctors and his removal from IR courtesy of general manager Doug Armstrong. Both came on Friday.
With Leopold’s return, the Blues have seven defensemen on roster. It may not be too long before they have eight. Roman Polak, who was placed on IR last week with a lower-body injury, is working on his return, as well.
On Friday, the Blues also elected to place forward Adam Cracknell on waivers. If he clears, it is possible that he will be sent to the Chicago Wolves, but not guaranteed.
Cracknell has played in 14 games with the Blues and has two assists, but the return of Reaves made him expendable.
Cracknell could remain on the Blues without the team being over the 23-man roster limit. In that event, the club would have had 14 forwards on roster, with Alexander Steen still on IR.