St. Louis Blues 2017-18 Final Report Card: Alex Pietrangelo

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 4: Alex Pietrangelo
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 4: Alex Pietrangelo /

The St. Louis Blues are done for the summer, but they don’t get that last day of school feeling. For them, getting that final report card is not a fun experience when there was time left to play.

The St. Louis Blues 2017-18 season is done, the lockers are cleared out and the players are on their way to wherever they will call home for the summer. They’ve had their exit interviews with coaches and management, so there is nothing left for them to do. All we can do is hand out their final report cards.

We might as well start where everything should stop – the captain. It was an odd season for Alex Pietrangelo.

While there were gigantic peaks to his season, the valleys were a bit too deep. However, like most players, you wonder how much can actually change without sacrificing the positives.

Nevertheless, his individual play was fine. It is those intangibles you would like to see in a captain that lower his grade.

Final Grade: B-

I’ll be honest, I thought about giving Petro a C+ here. But, when you look at his stats, it is hard to argue against the man unless you do not like him in the first place.

Sadly, there is a growing sentiment among the fans that he is not captain material. We’ll get into that in a moment.

Statistically, there is very little argument against Pietrangelo. Since becoming captain, and without Kevin Shattenkirk, he has stepped up his offensive game.

For two seasons in a row, he has set new personal records. Following up on a 2016-17 with 14 goals and 48 points, Pietrangelo scored 15 goals and 54 points this season. Those are both new career highs.

Pietragelo just turned 28, so you could argue the career highs have hit their peak. I argue that there is still more to draw from him.

He still has the opportunity to shoot more, as does the entirety of the current Blues roster, which could lead to more goals. He also needs to learn to be more of a quarterback instead of just a cog in an ineffective power play. That could lead to more assists.

Even if he does not improve, 50-plus points is very good from a defenseman. He finished 13 in the league for defensive scoring. He was tied for third in goals scored by a defenseman and only trailed the top goal scorers by two.

His possession metrics and point shares took slight up-turns, but he still needs to improve defensively. Much of Pietrangelo’s defensive success depends on who his partner is.

That is true for many players across the league, but if you consider yourself an elite defenseman, which he should, then it should not matter who your partner is. For Pietrangelo, it does.

Say what you want about Jay Bouwmeester, but that partnership works for Pietrangelo. They have a comfort level together and a confidence in knowing where the other will be. We saw that be completely untrue for Petro and someone like Joel Edmundson.

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I spent all offseason saying I wanted that combination and it worked out as bad as it could have. It could have been worse, but those two were minus-players in more games than the Blues could afford when paired together.

It will be interesting to see who gets paired with Pietrangelo next season since Bouwmeester will likely still be recovering. That said, the defensive aspect held Pietrangelo back this season as an individual.

Early in the year, we were talking about him being a possible Norris Trophy candidate. That somewhat fell apart as the entire team had some bad months during the winter.

Pietrangelo still has to improve to be among the best. He set career bests for blocks and takeaways, but he also set a career high for giveaways. That is not a stat that a team like the Blues can afford.

However, any way you slice it, his stats are probably good enough. Sure, you’d like a little more but they are good enough.

It is those intangibles that have to be improved on. Personally, I do not fall into this category of thinking he is a bad captain.

He does have to grow as a leader. There have been plenty of examples through history where the captain is not the true locker room leader, but you have to be among that group. Right now, I’m not sure where Pietrangelo falls.

He has the C, but does anyone look to him to lead the team? Can he go to another player and call them out for not playing to their potential?

Pietrangelo does not need to be screaming his lungs out or tossing sticks across the locker room. That does not seem to fit his personality. He has to exert more leadership and guide this team, however.

This does not fall on Pietrangelo alone. There was a clear lack of leadership and guidance through the tough stretches of 2017-18. However, it is impossible to say the team lacks leadership and not point to the man wearing the C as a starting point.

That’s what is hard to define though. It is easy, as an outsider, to say the team lacks leadership, but not everyone responds to the same type of message. Therefor, how you change is not clearly definable. All we know is there has to be change.

Perhaps Mike Yeo needs to return to being a tough customer and Pietrangelo can be the one the players turn to. Whatever the outcome, he has to continue to grow as a leader.

Next: Blues Power Play Killed The 2017-18 Season

That said, the B- is a good grade. Like the team, Pietrangelo had several ups and downs throughout the season.

Like the team, if he had been more consistent, he would be looking at hardware to end the year. Instead, the only hardware they will see are the clubs in their golf bag.

Still, you cannot completely discount career best offensive numbers. If Pietrangelo can find consistency with those numbers, then the Blues are in business and their captain can guide the others through example.