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This season could be Tyler Bozak’s last with the Blues

The Blues’ veteran forward likely won’t stay in St. Louis.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

I hope I’m wrong, but I feel like this season could be Tyler Bozak’s last in St. Louis. I don’t think Bozak will finish his career as a St. Louis Blue. He’s a veteran forward whose future seems to be uncertain.

Yes, Bozak laced up his skates for his 800th NHL game on January 27th — like my fellow St. Louis Game Time writer Caitlin Loggins — recently wrote about. By the way, I’m not taking a shot at Caitlin, but I don’t see him sticking around in St. Louis.

I’m happy Bozak reached his 800-game milestone and became the 85th active NHL player to do so. If anyone in the league deserves success, it’s him. He was undrafted, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he played for nine seasons from 2009-18. He wasn’t going to win a Stanley Cup in Toronto, but who was? The Leafs haven’t won a Cup since 1967.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope the Leafs win again someday — like in my lifetime — but I don’t see it happening soon. They must improve their identity, culture, and consistency. However, that’s easier said than done, and that’s not my job. I’m just a journalist by trade.

Bozak is currently on a one-year, $750,000 contract. He was re-signed by the Blues on September 14, 2021. He previously was signed by the Blues in a three-year, $15 million contract from 2018-21. He won a Cup with the Blues in 2019.

Bozak, however, has just nine points (three goals, six assists) and a -7 rating in 37 games thus far this season. So, as much as I like seeing him on the Blues’ fourth line with Klim Kostin and Oskar Sundqvist, he won’t be playing up the lineup any time soon. At this point, he’s an appreciated fan favorite and stabilizing force for the youth on the team. He’s reliable and seems to help the team’s culture with his veteran presence. But the past probably isn’t going to improve the present.

The Blues have just $142,786 in cap space right now. Based on stats, Bozak isn’t worth another $750,000 for 2022-23. He’s not getting any younger, and time’s catching up with him. The team has shown us that they have high-quality, promising depth in their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. That said, I’m not sure which NHL team will sign him as a free agent. If nothing happens, then I see him retiring after playing 13 seasons in the NHL.