Grading the Blues forwards part 3

Grading the Blues forwards part 3

Credit: Getty Images

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 12: Derek Mackenzie #24 of the Columbus Blue Jackets knocks down Chris Porter #32 of the St. Louis Blues during a stoppage in play during the second period on April 12, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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by Andrew Allsman / Hockey StL

KMOV.com

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 11:51 AM

(Hockey StL) --

Alex Steen:

It’s no surprise that Alex Steen was one of the Blues’ most productive players again this season. Steen always finds a way to be one of the Blues’ most consistent players every year, though he sometimes passes under the radar of many simply because he isn’t considered to be an elite player. However, Steen continues to be one of the Blues’ best forwards. This past year, Steen was third on the team in total points (27). He netted just eight goals, but had 19 assists in 40 games. Steen is not a flashy player, but he has a wicked slap shot, and is very good at making plays happen. Steen led the Blues with three playoff goals, and was one of the few Blues players who was able to finish. Steen will never receive the credit due him, but he has been a strong asset for the Blues, and will continue to be.

Regular season grade: B+

Playoff grade: B+

 

Jaden Schwartz:

For a player that faced tough odds heading into training camp, Jaden Schwartz had a very strong season. This year was Schwartz’s first full National Hockey League season, and for a player that is still trying to adjust, Schwartz was very good. Schwartz had to compete for a spot in the starting lineup, unlike fellow rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, but it didn’t bother Schwartz. Not only did Schwartz have to fight for a spot, but he also had to work extra hard on the ice. Schwartz is a bit undersized for the NHL, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t find ways to be effective. Schwartz is perhaps the Blues’ best forward in terms of causing opponent turnovers. He gets to the right areas on the ice, and makes it tough for opponents to move pucks. It was something that caught the eye of head coach Ken Hitchcock in the postseason as well. Schwartz had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 45 games this year. In the postseason, Schwartz was noticeable in every game, and was one of the Blues best players every game. That says a lot about Schwartz’s abilities considering he had just one point, but Schwartz found ways to be effective without much offensive production.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: A

 

Ryan Reaves:

Ryan Reaves spent his fair share of time fighting for a roster spot in past years, but now he has become an irreplaceable player for the Blues. Ryan Reaves will never be a goal scorer, and he will never set up plays with flashy passes. What he does do is give his team energy during desperate times, and he gives it his all on every shift. It’s hard to find many faults in Reaves’ game. He does what he is asked. He goes out and checks, and makes safe plays. He also is very effective at wearing down opponents. While these may seem like little things, and are often overlooked, they are vital to the Blues. Reaves had a career-high four goals to go along with his 79 penalty minutes in 43 regular season games this year. Reaves had no points in the playoffs, but that’s not surprising. He did plenty of other things that were just as valuable to his team.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: B

 

Scott Nichol:

In what was likely his last season with the Blues, Nichol was not able to contribute much this season. He had some injury trouble late in the season that sidelined him for all of the playoffs. Nichol provided a good presence on the Blues’ fourth line early in the season, but the line was much more effective when Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell were joined with Reaves. Nichol had one goal in 30 games, which was his only point of the season.

Regular season grade: C

Playoff grade: None

 

Chris Porter:

Porter was a bit of a surprise positive for the Blues. Due to injuries, he was able to make a name for himself and was able to maintain a spot on the Blues even as they went into the postseason. Porter had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 29 regular season games. Porter was a very nice addition for the Note because he complimented both Reaves and Cracknell. Porter proved to the Blues that he was an asset, and he became an everyday player because of it. There is no reason to expect that he won’t be a part of the Blues squad next October.

Regular season grade: B+

Playoff grade: A

 

Adam Cracknell:

Cracknell, like Porter, was a surprise plus for the Blues. He found himself on the roster because of injuries, made a name for himself, and was called back up late in the season as rosters expanded. He became an everyday player for the Blues as they made their way into the playoffs, and was a top forward for them in the postseason. Cracknell is a forward that knows how to score, but his physical game was more useful to the Blues considering his spot on the fourth line. Cracknell came out in the first postseason game checking everything in sight, and provided many boosts for the Blues in their six postseason games. Cracknell played in five of the six playoff games, and recently was rewarded for his solid year with a one-year, one-way contract.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: A

 

 

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