It was only a minor scoping (probably to clear some painful debris). It will set back his training about 2 weeks. The better comfort might help his training a bit. I still see him returning in early January. If he can't play all season, his insurance will kick in after his 30th game out, and then pay for 80% of his salary after that. That will cover approximately 53.5% of his annual salary. As for his cap hit, -I think his cap hit WON'T count in The Blues' total if he's out for the season. So, they'll have flexibility later, to add an experienced defenceman for the playoff run and the playoffs (IF they choose to). But, I think they WON'T do that. I think they'll stick to the youth plan, and let Pietrangelo, Bell and, maybe Junland, get valuable game experience. Pietrangelo will be eased in, but by mid season, he and Bell should be well integrated into the system. The defence will have a lot of youth, and make youthful mistakes, but it will be a lot more mobile,better at carrying the puck, and be able to participate in scoring a lot more than previous teams with Brewer, McKee, and Woywitka in their places. And, Brewer may join in at mid season, bring added depth.
I think Bell will be a lot better than a lot of people think. His weaknesses on defence can be corrected by learning in a defensive system (Blues'). Mac and other coaches can work with him. His young, strong, has a decent sized body. He's working with Nelson Ayotte. The Blues' system and coaches will want him to play more physically, and play a lot better position in his own zone than he did in Toronto's offensive-oriented system. I don't believe the rap on him that he CAN'T play good defensive hockey. He wasn't picked in the 2nd round of the draft because he was an extreme one-sided offence-only D-man. I think that by game 50, Bell will be a very solid 3rd pairing player, and Pietrangelo will be a plus player, helping the team out when he's on the ice. Junland may even get a trial due to injuries. The Blues should have decent depth on defence for the playoff race and the playoffs, whether or not Brewer returns. If he DOES return (as I expect him to (at mid season), The Blues should be okay on D for the playoffs. If NOT, I expect some "playoff jitters" by The Blues' defence, at least in the first few playoff games.
It'll be interesting to see how they do in the playoffs.