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Blues player profile: Alexei Toropchenko

The young forward isn’t going to start the season right away in 2022-23.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues forward Alexei Toropchenko will miss two-plus months to start the 2022-23 NHL season — just like Laura wrote last week.

Toropchenko didn’t make his NHL debut until December 14, 2021, but he has been a nice sight to see on the Blues’ fourth line. While he didn’t receive much ice time, he made up for the lack thereof with his speed, which contributes to his high-quality skating and shifts, along with his aggressive style of play. Blues head coach Craig Berube has expressed that his shoulder injury was a tough blow. I’m sure Blues fans feel the same way, even if they’re not necessarily Toropchenko fans.

Of course, St. Louis can give more ice time to fellow forwards like Logan Brown and Nathan Walker; but they may sign veteran forward Tyler Bozak to a one-year contract. Anything more than a year would be a risky move, in my opinion. We’ll see which option the Blues decide on.

Toropchenko — a Moscow, Russia native — has come a long way.

Before Toropchenko was drafted with the 113th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, he played for the OHL’s Guelph Storm and the MHL’s HK MVD Balashikha. He also represented the Russian national men’s under-18 hockey team at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2017 IIHF World U18 Championships. He won a bronze medal in both tournaments.

Alexei’s father, Leonid Toropchenko, died of a heart attack in May 2017. At the time, Alexei was just starting his professional hockey career in a new country with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. It would already be tough for him or anyone else to deal with homesickness and culture shock, but a family member’s death adds fuel to the (internal) fire. But he kept his focus, thanks to his hard work and dedication.

When asked about his goals for the rest of the 2017-18 OHL season, Toropchenko responded: “To always be working hard and getting more shots from everywhere ... Playing smart in the D-zone, playing a simple game, and just working hard.”

Toropchenko’s injury is a setback, but I believe he’ll bounce back as an offensive winger with good upside, adding to the Blues’ flexibility with their forwards.