Grading the Blues’ forwards - Part 2
Known for his veteran experience and leadership, Jason Arnott was brought in by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to provide stability in emotional circumstances. Arnott did a fine job inside and outside of the locker room, not only helping the team get to the playoffs with his leadership, but also by contributing on the ice. Arnott, 37, produced 17 goals and 17 assists during the regular season, but was unable to stay in the lineup when the team needed him most. Arnott missed 10 regular season games because of various injuries, and was out of the lineup late in the second round due to a lower-body injury. Arnott became a liability in the playoffs, and when head coach elected to sit him. Arnott made his displeasure known. Since Arnott is supposed to be a leader, his refusal to skate, and his decision to pack his bags late in the second round, due to his disapproval of his being sidelined, really hurt his reputation.
Final grade: C+
Jamie Langenbrunner was acquired by general manager Doug Armstrong on the same day as Jason Arnott. Both players received one year deals, and were brought in for similar reasons. Producing offensively was their secondary task, as they were to be relied upon to coach the young Blues. Langenbrunner, 36, has accumulated over 1,000 games worth of experience in his career, and has a vast wealth of knowledge on the game of hockey. Langenbrunner was not on the scoresheet most nights this season, but made an impact regardless. He registered 6 goals and 18 assists, but was instrumental in the discipline of the club during the regular season. Langenbrunner played the game the right way all season long, and in turn, helped the team mature. Langenbrunner’s job was not to produce, but to mentor, and he did his job well.
Final grade: B+
After missing over a year with a concussion, David Perron returned with a bang, scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks the night he returned. But Perron wasn’t finished. He went on to play in 57 regular season games (ironically that is his number as well) and scored 21 goals along with 21 assists. He leapfrogged over the majority of the roster to be fifth overall in points on the team. He was almost invisible in the playoffs, but keep in mind that most Blues players were not as good as they needed to be. Perron’s quick hands along with his sniping ability remained the same as before and once again he was able to dance around defenders producing highlight reel plays as a result. Perron had a great season considering he missed significant time due to a concussion. Some players never recover from concussions, but I think it’s fair to say he is not one of them. Perron will not earn an A grade simply because he was not consistent. There were times when defenders couldn’t touch him and others where he looked slightly slow and out of sync. Perron had a great season considering the complications he had to overcome, and one has to think that he will only get more productive as time goes on.
Final grade: B+
Despite missing nearly half of the regular season due to injury, Alex Steen showed once again how versatile he can be. The effort he exerts both defensively and offensively makes him arguably the best all around Blues forward. Steen still managed to score 15 goals and register 13 assists this season despite limited playing time. In the playoffs, Steen was not as effective, but it’s unknown whether that can be attributed to his concussion related injury. Steen brings a lot to the table every year, and this season was no different as he got off to an excellent start, and was on his way to making the 2011-12 season one of the best of his career. If it hadn’t been for his injury would he have been the Blues’ best forward? It was certainly shaping up that way.
Final grade: B+