The St. Louis Blues were expecting big things from Alexander Steen after giving him a lengthy contract extension in the offseason. For a variety of reasons, it never quite worked out.
You can look at the season of St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen one of two ways. On one hand, you can say he chipped in when needed and filled some important roles for other injured players. On the other hand, you’d say he had a disappointing season where his offensive numbers continue to slip.
Either way, you would not be completely wrong. When you look at the overall picture, however, it is hard not to be disappointed with what we got from number 20 in 2017-18.
Again, on one hand, you can’t really point to a specific time during the season when his name would have been put in the hat with some of the slackers on the team. He regularly gave good effort on his shifts, so maybe it just is not in the tank anymore to produce what he’s been capable of in the past.
Final Grade: C-
Given the dichotomy of what I just said, C- might sound a bit harsh. If this was a real school, however, it would still be a passing grade. It’s just not really good enough, which embodies how Steen’s season went.
If you look purely at his offensive numbers, then he’s continued a worrying downward trend. After putting up a career high in goals for 2013-14 and points in 2014-15, Steen’s numbers have dropped every season since then without change. The goal numbers have dropped off each year too. He only had 15 goals and 46 points this past season.
In 2015-16, it was understandable, because Ken Hitchcock was having him take an even more defensive role than he already played. While the broadcasters continue to suckle on that teat, Steen is not playing any more of a defensive role than many of his teammates. If he is, he has not done as good a job of it as he had in the past.
If you move out from the pure offensive numbers, his defensive numbers have taken a dive too. Even admitting that plus/minus is not a completely reliable stat, it is astounding that your “best defensive forward” had the worst plus/minus on the team.
You can argue some of that was because he was playing with a menagerie of different linemates and would not be wrong. Still, you just did not see that same defensive force that you saw in the 2016 playoffs that got St. Louis to the conference finals.
Steen’s Corsi and Fenwick scores went up from last season, which shows that he does a good job of controlling the puck. He also had more takeaways from last season.
The flip side of that is that his point share numbers were the worst of his Blues career. That means the team was not creating points when he was on the ice and his defensive play was not leading to points either.
There are also lingering doubts about his affect on the locker room. Those will never be proven, but it should be said that as an alternate captain, there did not seem enough leadership on his or anyone’s part during the toughest part of the season.
Focusing on what we know, Steen is still a good player and can be a contributor to this franchise. He may have to be since he still has three years left on his deal. What seemed like a decent contract when signed, is suddenly seeming a big hefty.
Regardless, the Blues have to add depth to put Steen where he will be most valuable. At this stage of his career, like many of his teammates, he needs to be a third line player.
If you’re only going to score in the mid-teens for goals and 40’s for points, that’s where he has to be. Unfortunately, the Blues have called on him to play top-six minutes far too often.
That’s where Steen’s value does show up. Even if he is not scoring at the pace he used to, you don’t feel terrible having him up there.
There are some guys that make you cringe when they are playing on the top line and we’ll cover those players, but Steen fits in well. You’d like him to come up with top line production if up there, but at least he does not look out of place.
Hopefully the Blues will add some pieces and put Steen in a better position to succeed these coming seasons. For now, his 2017-18 was disappointing.
We may not see his offensive numbers go back up, but we cannot see the defensive numbers dip too or his value is questioned.
His defenders point to his intangibles, but those intangibles were just not as visible this season.