As the bye-week moves along, let’s look at some grades for the first half of the season. I’ve only included players that have had some sort of consistent playing time this season, which means no Kyrou, MacEachern, Binnington, etc.
Let's start with forwards.
Patrick Maroon: "D"
He’s not getting paid much but a lot more was expected from him coming into this season. He’s one of the slowest players I’ve ever seen, and his size doesn’t seem to be much of a factor because he can’t catch up to the opponent in time to lay a hit. The Blues are giving him a decent amount of ice-time lately which could mean they’re looking to showcase him for a deadline trade.
Sammy Blais: "B"
Sammy hasn’t done anything flashy, but when he is in the lineup he’s contributing in any way he can. He’s only played in 24 games but is fourth on the team in hits with 74.
Nobody expected him to repeat his career year from last season but his production needs to be a lot more consistent. If the Blues fall off in the next couple of weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded before the deadline.
Not much was expected from Sanford coming into this season and overall he’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s looked rough at times when getting heavy minutes, but 13 points in 31 games isn’t too shabby for a guy that missed all of last season.
I know it must be tough for a guy who hasn’t played in two years to contribute, but he’s been almost non-existent when put in the lineup. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if this season is the last we see of Fabbri in St. Louis.
Schwartz still has one of the best work-ethics on the team and is creating plays left and right, but he needs to start putting the puck in the back of the net. There’s no excuse for a player logging his amount of minutes to only have 2 non-empty net goals. Hard work usually pays off, though, so I’m confident he’ll start producing again soon.
Early on he seemed a bit timid but in his ten games before his injury he looked excellent. I’d like to see him get some more chances in the top six when he returns, and I don’t think he’ll disappoint. He’s only 19 years-old but you can tell he has a great amount of skill and hockey sense.
Early in the season Steen was doing exactly what was expected from him but lately he’s been invisible. His heart and effort are never a question, but this team needs more from a player making $5.5 million a year. He shouldn’t see anymore time in the top six with the way he’s playing.
I understand we shouldn’t have expected much more given his history, but a $5 million player needs to have more of an impact. Half his games this season I forget he’s even on the team. Honestly, I’m not sure he’s doing anything Berglund or even Brodziak couldn’t do for a lot less money.
Barbashev has been everything you want from a fourth line center. He’s defensively reliable, he kills penalties, and he’s already recorded career high in points. Berube has made him a staple in the bottom six and it should stay that way for the remainder of the year.
At times this year Perron has looked a little lackadaisical but for the most part he’s been one of this team’s most effective forwards. He’s second on the team in points and goals, while usually putting in the extra effort in the offensive zone. He can play both LW and RW which will come in handy when everyone is healthy and Berube is looking to mold his lines.
There’s no doubt Oskar is the most improved player on the roster this season. Despite getting fourth line minutes for the majority of the season, he’s third on the team in non-powerplay goals. He’s also shown his versatility, playing all three forward positions, killing penalties, and lately seeing some time on the power play. It’s Always Sunny is St. Louis.
O’Reilly was the team’s lone all-star, leading the team in nearly every offensive category. He leads all forwards in ice-time by a wide margin, and is a man to be reckoned with in the face-off dot. He’s currently on pace to be the first Blues player since Demitra in 2002-2003 to record more than 82 points in a season.
He’s picked up his offensive production as of late, but a lot more is needed from him if the Blues are going to make a push toward the playoffs. 9 ES goals and 19 ES points isn’t going to cut it for a guy making $7.5 million, especially when his overall game leaves a lot to be desired.
Carl has only played in 16 games but he’s been very solid when healthy. Lately, he’s been averaging around 18 minutes of ice-time and has an impressive +9 rating to go along with it.
Edmundson has been slightly disappointing so far this season. At the end of last year he looked like a guy that could be a legitimate top-pairing defenseman, but this year he’s making too many sloppy mistakes. With that being said, he adds a nice physical element to the backend, leading the team with 94 hits.
After a horrendous start to the season, J-Bo has rebounded with a great last 20 games. He’s averaging over 21 minutes a night and is strangely one of the defensemen I trust the most at the moment. It’ll be funny when he gets resigned and half the fanbase loses their minds.
The biggest disappointment award of the first half goes to Alex Pietrangelo. Over the last few seasons he’s been extremely reliable on the backend, but for most of this season he hasn’t been close to good enough. He seems slower than usually, he’s not physical enough, and he never seems to hit the net with his shot. A lot of the fanbase wants him traded, but with his full NTC it might be difficult to pull off.
Dunn leads all Blues defensemen in points this season, but his play in his own zone could use a lot of improvement. He’s a turnover machine, dumb with the puck, and overall just isn’t a guy that I trust when the other team is on the attack. The good news is that he’s still just 22 years-old, so there’s a lot of time for him to fix his defensive game.
Bortuzzo has continued to be a solid third pairing defenseman all season long. He’s not the most beautiful skater in the world, but he’s reliable in his own zone while adding some much-needed grit to the team. He might find himself as the odd-man out, though, since all seven defensemen are currently healthy.
I got on Parayko a lot early in the season for his atrocious play, but much like Bouwmeester his performance has drastically improved. His offense isn’t what we once thought it could be, but defensively he’s been pretty reliable over the last couple of months. Hopefully his Montreal miscue from October doesn’t come back to haunt this team at the end of the season (Spoiler: It probably will).
There’s no doubt the defense this season has been shaky at times, but there are several games that could’ve been won with better goaltending. His weak, deflating goals continue to be a problem, and his inability to come up with clutch saves can’t be overlooked. It’s not a good sign when a team’s “number one” gets outplayed by the “backup” for three straight seasons. Hopefully this season is the end of Allen saga in St. Louis. If it’s not - we riot.
Where do you agree/disagree? Put your thoughts in the comments. Let’s Go Blues!