ST. LOUIS, MO. – JANUARY 10: St. Louis Blues center Robert Thomas (18) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the first period during an NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the St. Louis Blues on January 10, 2019, at Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues announced on Friday that rookie Robert Thomas will not travel with the team for their upcoming four-game road trip. Thomas suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Following a hit from Artturi Lehkonen, the rookie sat on the bench, clearly shaken up, for a bit; before leaving the game at the end of the first period. As the second period rolled around, the team noted that Thomas would not return.

Robert Thomas is playing his debut season in the NHL after a strong 2017-18 OHL season split between the London Knights and Hamilton Bulldogs. Last year, the now 19-year-old netted a combined 75 points in 49 games. He was just as electric in the playoffs, scoring 32 points in 21 games as the Bulldogs went on to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup, as champions of the OHL.

This year, Thomas has seen increasing minutes on a struggling Blues roster. He currently averages just under 13 minutes of ice time a game, with the spectrum ranging from 6 minutes to 19 a game. Lately, he’s started to play on the top line alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. The promotion in the lineup has been kind to Thomas, who scored in two of the last four games of December.  He picked up a goal in Thursday’s game before the injury occurred.

On the season, the 2017 first-round-pick has 14 points in 37 games. This ranks him 10th on the team in terms of scoring. This is ahead of veterans like Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko.

The injury, while obviously not positive, comes at the best time for St. Louis. Before Thursday’s game, the club called Mackenzie MacEachern and Sammy Blais up to the NHL, after strong performances in the AHL on Wednesday. The two saw very little ice time, a single shift each in the first period, but are still the go-to’s for filling Thomas’ role. Zach Sanford will also see an uptick in ice time as a result of the injury. Sanford has two points in his last four games and has looked better-and-better each night.

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