(HockeyStL) - Grading the Blues forwards
The 34 year old forward is particularly hard to grade this season considering he missed 57 games due to injuries. In the 25 games that he was able to participate in McDonald netted 10 goals and 12 assists averaging nearly a point per game. McDonald was a huge part of the Blues’ playoff success in the first round series against the Sharks as well. He played 8 games and had 5 goals and 5 assists to lead the Blues into the second round. McDonald, as always, used his speed to the benefit of himself and his teammates this year, making everyone around him look better. He did his part in the games he was able to participate in and was often times the best Blue on the ice.
Final grade: B+
It was a mediocre season for the Swedish forward, and after a fantastic offseason showing in the world championships, it was quite frankly a disappointing year for Berglund. Berglund failed to make an impact early in the season, and his appearances on the scoresheet were sporadic. Berglund was unable to consistently contribute, and at one point in the season went seven games without a point. Berglund started to turn his season around late in the year, and finished with 19 goals, 19 assists and 38 points, receding from last year’s 52 points. Berglund had 3 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs, and also was an impact player in the first round. Berglund played in all 82 regular season games.
Final grade: C
Appointed Blues captain in the offseason, Backes took on a whole new role in the locker room. He was expected to lead a young Blues team through the tasking 82-game season and into the playoffs. He did a fantastic job stepping up in the locker room and on the ice. Despite lowering his point total to 54 this year from last year’s 62, Backes still was tied for the team lead in point total, and also suited up for all 82 regular season games. In the playoffs, Backes recorded 8 points (2 goals and 2 assists), but it was his physicality that really stood out. The first year captain should receive a lot of recognition for his role this year on the team.
Final grade: A
Acquired in the offseason by the Blues, Nichol was brought on solely for leadership purposes. Nichol has been known to be excellent on faceoffs, but knew he would only be centering the fourth line in his tenure with the Blues. Nichol, 37, won 259 of the 450 faceoffs he took in the regular season for a success rate of 57.6%. This was the highest percentage of faceoffs won on the team. Nichol contributes little offensively, scoring only 3 goals, and registering only 5 assists during the regular season, but he centered the fourth line that Hitch often called the team’s best line. Nichol did exactly what the Blues asked of him this season, and had a great impact on the young Blues squad.
Final grade: B-
The fan favorite T.J Oshie had the best season of his career in the 2011-2012 campaign, scoring 19 goals and registering 35 assists and rising above the 50 point mark for the first time in his NHL career. Oshie will be looking for a contract extension by the Blues this offseason, and though he only recorded 3 points in the playoffs, his regular season stats, and the impact he provided is worthy of an extension. Oshie’s role is to provide a spark to the team with his crushing hits, and nifty dekes. He had a fantastic season playing alongside David Backes, and the chemistry formed made Oshie an overwhelming success this season.
Final grade: B+
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for the Blues this year, Chris Stewart was undoubtedly not the same player as last season. Stewart found the back of the net 15 times and contributed 8 helpers in 26 games last season for the Blues. He was projected to be a 40 goal scorer this season, but failed to live up to expectations. In 79 regular season games this year Stewart only netted 15 goals and 15 assists. This added up to only 7 more points from last year’s 30 points, and with 53 more games played this season. “Stewie” was able to find life in the second round of the playoffs where he scored two goals, but he was invisible for much of the regular season, and the Western Conference quarterfinals. Stewart is in the final year of his contract, and it is not known if the Blues will be willing to re-sign him.
Final grade: F