On Tuesday, it was announced that Jacob de la Rose would be returning to his native Sweden to play:
#stlblues restricted free agent F Jacob de la Rose is headed to Sweden to play for Farjestad BK of the SHL, signing a three-year contract. Should de la Rose one day return to the NHL, the Blues do own his rights ... https://t.co/Klffyd5xjo— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) June 1, 2021
There was little reaction from the fanbase, considering how de la Rose has fallen down the depth chart at center. When he did play (he played in 13 games this season, notching an assist), it was usually when someone higher on the depth chart than him went down with injury, and it was usually on the fourth line.
Acquired in November of 2019 in a trade strictly designed to give former Blues forward Robby Fabbri a better path forward in his career, de la Rose didn’t add much upon his arrival from the Red Wings. He’s a big guy, and he hits, which is fine. In 47 games with the St. Louis Blues, he has exactly one goal.
When he was slotted in on a fourth line that can produce when they’re all healthy, de la Rose added little, including in the face-off circle with a 46.58 winning percentage. If he has to take face-offs in the defensive zone, a winning percentage like that makes him a liability. He undercut the bottom six’s ability to defend, especially against high quality opponents.
He hits, because when he’s on the ice, his opponents are more likely to have the puck than the Blues. That’s a problem.
His return to Sweden gives him an opportunity to play more often and against competition that’re closer to his skill level while still making good money. It also frees up $700,000 in cap hit for a team who need to re-sign pending unrestricted free agents like Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak.
It’s a win-win for both parties, but for de la Rose, his return to Sweden has a personal aspect. His mother was recently diagnosed with cancer:
Former #Habs player Jacob de la Rose choose Färjestad and being close to home, over more money elsewhere, as his mother was diagnosed with cancer six weeks ago.— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) June 2, 2021
Best wishes to the de la Rose family. https://t.co/vtepWvCf9Y
It’s difficult for anyone to fault de la Rose for his decision to return to Sweden even without knowing his mother’s current medical diagnoses; this should make it next to impossible for anyone to complain about him leaving the Blues organization.