Vince Dunn is a workhouse already at just 24 years old.
In each of his first three seasons as a member of the St. Louis Blues, Dunn has played at least 70 games and put up at least 23 points. But I think he is about to do better.
He signed a one year deal worth $1.88 million this morning, finalizing the path for Doug Armstrong to lock in Mike Hoffman, and officially kick off the new year and shortened season off just right. It’s good news for a plan that has been in the works for months.
Vince Dunn's $1,875,000 AAV puts the #NHLBlues $3,050,515 above the ceiling with a 22-player roster.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) December 31, 2020
If Hoffman does indeed sign between $3.5M-$4.5M, they could waive 2 players (e.g. de la Rose/MacEachern), sign Hoffman, and only have to place Steen on LTIR to be cap compliant.
Here’s the thing about Dunn: He’s a good defenseman, especially after just three seasons, but I think he will break out next year, and the reasons are simple.
The Blues need him to get better. With the loss of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, the defensive corps of the team will require at least two blue line defenders to step up their game. Dunn is primed to do that now. Let’s look at a few of the things he does well.
~Dunn is an aggressive defenseman who contributes on each end of the ice. He fires around 140 shots on goal per season with only 16-17 minutes of ice time per game, and likes to use his body in the corners. Let’s be honest. The minute we saw this guy deck that player in the minors, one should have downloaded the fact that he is a dangerous man. All of these factors will only be enhanced with more playing time in the 2020-21 season.
~He plays like a veteran already. I’m talking about a high hockey IQ. The way he cycles the puck, moves it with confidence on the ice, and knows where his teammates are on the ice is a unique asset. Sure, there are bone-headed plays, but that comes with any fiery young defenseman with offensive firepower. Dunn isn’t afraid to take over a play and pinch in during an offensive surge, and that’s what this team will need more of in the coming seasons.
~Did I mention he just turned 24?!?
~Dunn gives the Blues two big lefty sticks in the lineup on any given night with Torey Krug. I wouldn’t call myself a coach by any means, but having a deep arsenal of right and left shots on a defensive unit should give Craig Berube some nice balance on the lines.
While Colton Parayko could pair with Marco Scandella, I could see him teaming up with Dunn occasionally. Two forward-minded defensemen pinching in with big shots and pressure from the point could be too much firepower for one team to handle. The options are open, but my wildcard pairing would be Dunn and Justin Faulk. I think they could help each other out immensely.
With Pietrangelo gone, the opportunities are there for ascension with the Blues, especially for players like Dunn and Faulk. The latter has the big contract, but the former has the big raw batch of talent. I like to think when one big minute-eating player leaves town, those minutes will have to be filled by another body. Dunn should be near the top of that list. He has three solid seasons under his belt, can shoot, defend with aggression, and will only get more confident. Confidence breeds success for athletes who need to convince other players they shouldn’t be trifled with.
It's hard to find a reason to not love the Dunn deal. Nice work, Army. #stlblues— Jeff Ponder (@jponder94) December 31, 2020
Jeff Ponder, a host of the esteemed Blues podcast, Let’s Go Blues Radio, is 100% correct about the latest contract in his tweet above. The one year deal works so well for the team and player, too. Dunn gets another prove it salary, and can set up for that big deal. Now is the time for him to seize the moment. Logging good minutes and being capable on the power play is one thing, but can the young man develop into a Norris Trophy candidate? I think the tools are there.
How about you? What are your thoughts on Dunn and the Blues now that 2020 is finally just about finished.