Fresh off his first ever four goal game, Zach Sanford has been buzzing for the St. Louis Blues. He’s taken an opportunity with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron and run with it as fast as he could.
And while his night against Vegas was truly a breakout game, there had been signs long before that. Sanford has eight goals in his last ten games. It comes out to 13 points in those ten games. Obviously that number drops to four goals and nine points in nine games when you take away his performance against the Golden Knights. Those numbers are still impressive for Sanford when you look at where he started the season.
Sanford didn’t grab his first goal until his seventh game of the season. And his next one came 11 games after that. He had another lengthy drought, spanning 12 games from November 29th until his third goal of the season game on January 11th.
Since then, Sanford has not gone more than three games without scoring a goal. And he’s only had three games total with no points since that date. A lot of players have stepped up in the wake of injuries to Vladimir Tarasenko, Oskar Sundqvist, Sammy Blais, etc. Sanford’s contribution may have not been expected, but his climb up the points chart has been a nice welcome. He sits tied for seventh on the team with Tyler Bozak.
Looking at his contributions with O’Reilly and Perron specifically, the trio has been on the ice for 21 goals in the over 350 minutes of ice time they’ve spent together. They’re generating more chances than they’re giving up. As a line, they sit at a 54.06 Corsi for percentage and a 54.11 Fenwick for percentage.
While their opposition is generating more high danger chances against, Sanford and his line mates have outscored opponents eight to four in those opportunities. They also have the edge in total scoring chances for at 51.62 percent (143-134). Now how much of that has included Sanford?
Of Sanford’s 12 goals, O’Reilly and/or Perron have collected an assist on seven of them. Sanford has collected an assist on one of O’Reilly’s 10 goals and one of Perron’s 33 goals. So Sanford clearly isn’t the set up man between the three. He has his own role to fulfill. And it’s becoming more consistent in that role that has helped him during this recent stretch of solid play.
Whether it’s being more assertive in his play or not being afraid to use the body, Sanford has found a way to make an impact on the game more often than not.
And if this type of play can continue, it will only help his case to remain a fixture in the Blues lineup. If the Blues feel Sanford has found a way to remain consistent, it may change some potential plans on how they’ll approach the trade deadline. The team doesn’t necessarily need to go out and acquire a big piece. Especially if they feel Tarasenko may have a chance to play at the end of the regular season. The Blues are projected to only have 20K in space.
So if the team decides to make a move, they will likely have to ship some salary out. The name out there has been Chris Kreider who has a cap hit of $4.625 million through the rest of this season. The cost may be too high for a potential rental. This is where the play of Sanford has been able to help the Blues out. Finding a line mate to play with O’Reilly and Perron had been an issue before. But if Sanford has solved that problem, the Blues may not have to worry about potential cost.
He has come a long way since being thought of as a potential through in in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade. Sanford played well enough before to warrant a two-year contract this past summer. If he is able to keep this play and consistency up, there’s little doubt about him not being in a Blues uniform.