In the world of sports, it’s all about being ready. If your name and number are called, be ready to jump off the bench and seize the moment. Few people know this better than Sammy Blais, who just signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues for $850,000 to stick around next season.
Blais made an imprint in my mind with two key plays during the Stanley Cup Final run.
First, it was scoring a key goal against Dallas in his first career playoff game. He jumped off the bench, skated in on wing, and blasted a slap shot past Ben Bishop to put away a game. He played 18:20 on the ice that game, dishing out nine hits and making his presence known.
Second, when he rocked David Backes during the beginning of a Stanley Cup Final game. Here was a a 23-year-old kid going after a franchise favorite and just leveling him. Nothing personal and all rugged business.
He targeted Backes’ upper body on the play, and just drilled him into the boards. Backes would get his revenge later on, but it was still a ballsy move by Blais to fire that physicality up with a veteran and former Blue. It’s these sort of plays that will make Blais a fan favorite sooner rather than later.
When I say “beast” in the headline, I am referring to that raw strength and invincibility on the ice. During 15 playoff games, Blais dished out 70 hits. Only Oskar Sundqvist made his presence more known when it came to using his body out there. He played more than ten minutes in 13 of those games, posting three points.
The three points in the playoffs were one shy of his regular season total in more than twice as many games. Blais looked lost at times during the regular season, but he could hardly find traction in his three separate stints with the team. He rarely played over 12 minutes of hockey during a game, and would look out of sorts or behind the play more times than not. There were flashes of his ability for sure, but mostly a desire for more was left.
The playoffs showed what he could do. At the most opportune time, Blais played his best. It’s a big reason why I wanted him signed as soon as possible, because if the Blues are losing Pat Maroon, I think Blais is one of the guys who can help fill those shoes. Let me repeat. I don’t expect Blais to replace Maroon, but I do think he can bring the attributes you would like Maroon to bring on a smaller scale, at least during the beginning.
The Stanley Cup run revealed a lot of things. One of the more underrated parts was Blais being a quality asset for this hockey team. He’s not afraid to use his body to change a game’s direction, and he can unleash a big shot when needed. As long as he continues to build confidence and use his size in front of the net, this could be a bargain for the Blues. The Blues are wanting to get younger, so Blais fits in with that plan.
Sometimes in sports, it takes a while for your number to be called, but when it is, time can’t be wasted. Blais didn’t waste that moment. He seized it.
In other news: The Blues also signed former Washington Capitals winger, Nathan Walker, on a two-year/two-way deal worth $700K/$300K in the first year, and $700/$350 in the second. A two-way deal offers Blues the chance to stipulate what Walker is paid, depending on which league he is playing in. If it was a one-way deal, like Blais’ contract, he’d be paid $700K regardless of a St. Louis or San Antonio jersey.
Stay tuned here for more signing news.