HockeyStL: Grading the forwards - Part 2

HockeyStL: Grading the forwards - Part 2

Credit: Getty Images

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 19: Chris Stewart #25 of the St. Louis Blues picks up a loose puck against the Dallas Stars during the first period at the Scottrade Center on April 19, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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by Andrew Allsman, HockeyStL

KMOV.com

Posted on May 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Grading the forwards part 2

Chris Stewart:

Coming off a 2011-12 campaign that left much to be desired, Chris Stewart came into training camp in the best shape of his National Hockey League career. The long and hard offseason work transferred onto the ice, where Stewart made Blues’ general manager Doug Armstrong look like a genius for re-signing Stewart. The power-forward netted 18 regular season goals, which led the team. Stewart’s 36 points were also a team-high. For Stewart, it was a redemption season and he made the most of it. Stewart had more speed, a more sound offensive game, and played with more passion. But his playoff performance was a disappointment. Stewart had just one postseason point, and played an entirely different game than he did in the regular season. Coming into the postseason, Stewart was an X-factor the Note, and he did not perform. He was out of position often times, and not nearly as strong or as relentless on the puck as he needed to be.

Regular season grade: A
Playoff grade: D+

Vladimir Sobotka:

One of the Blues’ most consistent forwards, Vladimir Sobotka had another excellent campaign. His offensive numbers won’t show it, but Sobotka was never a bad player for the team. Whether he was controlling pucks, or providing energy, Sobotka was of value to his team. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock spoke highly of Sobotka early and often in the regular season. Sobotka had many different roles on many different lines this year, but his versatility was a strong asset for the Blues. During the regular season, Sobotka had 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists). He played in all 48 games for the Blues, and his consistency was never lacking. In the postseason, Sobotka had a bit more difficulty, but he was still a strong player that the Blues were not afraid to rely upon in key situations. He was tied for the team-lead in points (three) and was the team-leader with a plus-four rating in the playoffs.

Regular season grade: B+
Playoff grade: C+

Vladimir Tarasenko:

It was a solid season for the highly touted Blues’ prospect. This season was Vladimir Tarasenko’s first in the National Hockey League, and it was met with an abundance of hype. The Russian chose to join the Blues this past offseason, despite heavy pull to remain in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, where he had been playing for the past four seasons. Tarasenko’s NHL career began with a bang as he netted two goals in his first game, squashing any skepticism about his skill. Tarasenko had five goals in his first seven games, making him the early favorite for the Calder Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s best rookie. In late January, Tarasenko suffered an upper-body injury, which later produced concussion-related symptoms. Tarasenko would be sidelined nearly a month, and he wasn’t the same player when he returned. On the year, Tarasenko had 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 38 games. He had only five minutes, 51 seconds of playing time in the playoffs, which is understandable considering Tarasenko’s NHL career is still in the beginning stages. There will be more pressure on Tarasenko to produce next season, but it’s hard to find too many faults in his game this past campaign.

Regular season grade: B+
Playoff grade: None

Patrik Berglund:

Patrik Berglund, like fellow forward Chris Stewart, is looking for a contract extension this summer, so this season was a very important one. Berglund and Stewart were neck and neck all season for the team lead in goals scored, but in the end, Stewart ended up with the team-leading 18 tallies, while Berglund had 17. Berglund was not necessarily the Blues’ most consistent player, but he certainly had a scoring touch this year. Though his goal total was high, Berglund had just eight assists, which has to improve in the coming seasons, assuming he and the Blues work out a deal to bring him back to St. Louis. Overall, the regular season was a good one for Berglund, as he played in all 48 games and was certainly a contributor. In the postseason, Berglund had a goal and an assist, but was a minus three in six games. Berglund had several defensive breakdowns that led to easy goals for the Los Angeles Kings. He, like many other Blues players, was not at the top of this game.

Regular season grade: B-
Playoff grade: C

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