Patrik Berglund should have been traded during the offseason.
One could mistake the above sentence as a common theme during the St. Louis Blues offseason, but this past summer, the whimsical took a back seat to the realistic.
Berglund was coming off his best season in six years, racking a career high in goals (23), and marking a resurgence no one but Berglund’s own hair could have predicted.
After all, the winger turned center was 29 years old and under the lock and barrel of a contract extension that would run into his early 30’s (five years, $19.5 million). Teams around the NHL needing some size around the net, albeit soft, and some decent production for a third liner, would at least bite or extend a phone call towards Doug Armstrong.
Armstrong didn’t trade Berglund, instead sending Jori Lehtera to Philadelphia and Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh for Brayden Schenn and Klim Kostin, who could arrive this spring for a cup of coffee. Those were impressive moves, but I was baffled when the Swede stayed put.
To be completely honest, I expected Berglund’s previous three year deal with the team to be a sign and trade scenario, yet he didn’t leave then either. He is the only remaining Blue from the original bro pack of Erik Johnson, T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and David Perron. Believe it or not, this is Berglund’s tenth season in St. Louis, making him the longest tenured Blue at the moment along with Alex Pietrangelo.
There isn’t much to be proud of here. Berglund is a decent yet unremarkable NHL talent, a victim of high expectations that unfortunately never died down over a decade. One would seemingly think that a change of scenery and different system would benefit Berglund, just like Washington did for Oshie, who earned himself a shiny well-deserved contract with the Capitals.
Then, Berglund got hurt in the offseason for the second consecutive year. The injury kept Berglund out until late November, when he returned and made a quick dent with two goals in his first three games. Berglund returned right as the great times in Blues hockey were starting to return to their regularly scheduled program.
Berglund hasn’t been much of a factor since those early December games, especially on the scoreboard. He has eight goals and five assists for the season in 33 games played, including three power play goals. He is a -5 on the ice, yet his Corsi For % and Fenwick For % aren’t terrible, each staying over the 50 % mark. Berglund has always been the ultimate streaky talent, but this season, that trend seems to have overextended itself.
This could be a case where a guy played hard during a contract year, got an extension, and got comfortable. The 25th pick overall in the 2006 draft could end up logging the most games played in Blues history if he finishes his current contract without a significant injury, but who exactly is excited to see that happen outside of the man’s family? I’ll take a drink of whiskey while the silence gathers.
Sure, Berglund plays good defense, but he’s no Selke Trophy finalist. He doesn’t make an ass of himself on the penalty kill, but it isn’t exactly noteworthy either. The man isn’t a ghost in the playoffs, but he’s not a difference maker either. He’s just ordinary. An ordinary that will carries a cap hit of $3.8 million the next FOUR (vomit) years.
Late Saturday night, my fellow STLGT rogue, Front Page Jeff, made an intriguing find about Berglund and his overrated versatility. Take a look at Jeff’s tweet before I add some context.
Only two times this season has Patrik Berglund made a pass which immediately resulted in a goal. Both of those instances were a pass back to the point - one to Parayko, one to Gunnarsson. #stlblues— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) February 11, 2018
Jones goes on to add that Berglund is a center, yet has not made a pass to a forward that directly led to a goal. That’s troubling for a center in the NHL. Someone whose job is to set up his wingers, yet doesn’t do it at all.
The Berglund supporters will tell you he does stuff that doesn’t score up on the score sheet. People, that’s so 2014-15 Backes talk-and it’s getting quite old. The man isn’t going to improve as he climbs over 30 years of age this summer. He will only be 33 years old when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, but it’ll seem like 40 to Blues fans.
It won’t be easy to pull off in a down year, but Armstrong should look to shed this contract. Getting rid of Jay Bouwmeester’s remaining money or Carl Gunnarsson would be just as good, but clearing four years of Berglund would be miraculous.
I’d rather stomach Bouwmeester’s remaining season due to the minutes he can handle and his seemingly not dead durability and Gunnarsson isn’t as much of a nuisance as I originally thought, but Berglund’s contract get heavy really quick.
Alas, I don’t expect this to happen. I expect Berglund to be a Blue for at least a couple years. Armstrong missed an opportunity in July to dish Berglund’s contract and high ceiling moment to a team, and is now stuck with him.
If there’s one thing Armstrong will never be able to outrun in his tenure as Blues General Manager, it’s handing out faulty contracts and no trade clauses. Luckily, Berglund only has a limited no trade clause in his new deal.
The disappearance of Patrik Berglund shouldn’t baffle no one, because it’s a reflection of his career. He scores a batch of goals, drifts away, and returns to score a few more. He plays on a wing and centers a line. He does nothing remarkable.
He is all ours. (vomit)