St. Louis Blues 2017-18 Final Report Card: Carl Gunnarsson

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Carl Gunnarsson
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Carl Gunnarsson /

Once you get past the fantastic start of the 2017-18 St. Louis Blues, there were very few pleasant surprises in the season. Oddly, an often forgotten defenseman was one of those few this year.

When the St. Louis Blues 2017-18 season opened, one of the players that was an afterthought was Carl Gunnarsson. We knew he would play, but nobody expected much out of those minutes.

Gunnarsson has always been one of those guys that goes out there, does his thing and goes back to the bench. Personally, I’ve often referred to him as the ghost. If the announcers did not say his name, you would honestly not know he ever stepped on the ice most times.

That was not the case in 2017-18. Gunnarsson was a pleasant surprise, not only showing a slight flare for offense but also just having a more visual impact on the game overall.

Final Grade: B+

Now, before anyone complains how this player or that gets a higher grade than players that are more talented, I’m not grading on a scale. My grades come mainly from expectations vs. production/impact minutes. So, if a player that gets 10 minutes of ice time was not expected to do much but really made the most of those minutes, they can earn a higher grade with lesser stats.

Thus, based on his production and expectation, Gunnarsson gets a B+. I almost thought about giving him an A, but the injury limited his action and there were a few clunkers mixed in there, the same as the rest of his teammates.

However, it’s hard not to be impressed with the slight resurgence of Gunnarsson. Most fans were more than willing to let him be relegated to the press box in favor of names like Dunn and Walman.

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Dunn earned his spot, which did limit Gunnarsson’s games in addition to his late injury. However, Walman proved he still has a great deal to learn. Thankfully, the Blues did not force the issue because Gunnarsson had a very good season.

He set a career high for goals scored with five. He couldn’t get his point totals back to double digits, having only four assists, but his scoring often came at important times.

His analytical scores also kept him from attaining a higher grade. His Corsi and Fenwick numbers were down from a percentage standpoint. He also had more defensive zone starts than any other year in St. Louis.

Back on the plus side, Gunnarsson had resurgent numbers in point shares. He tied his best offensive point share in St. Louis and also set personal bests in defensive point shares and overall point shares in a Blues uniform.

None of those numbers are the be-all end-all, but they show he was impacting the game more. When you go from 1.3 to 3.5 defensive point shares, that’s showing your defense is helping the team transition and score.

Gunnarsson also earned his minutes. Despite some significant injuries to other players, you don’t go from 13:36 minutes per game to well over 16 minutes because of injury alone. Gunnarsson was playing a solid defensive game that would often let his linemate go forward to help the attack.

He set a career best with a plus-15 mark on the season. The main detraction for Gunnarsson this year was a very low number on takeaways and a near high for giveaways for his time in St. Louis.

Gunnarsson is still in that part of fan’s minds that would not mind if he is gone next season. That’s just the truth for a great number of followers.

Next: Final Grades: Tage Thompson

However, if the Blues do not see the necessary improvements by Jake Walman or Jordan Schmaltz, Gunnarsson can clearly fill the void. On top of that, nobody has every really said he was a bad player. He’s just the forgotten man or expendable man in the plan for younger players to ascend.

Gunnarsson proved this year that being dependable and steady can be an asset as well. He’s not going to give you the spectacular, but the valleys are closer to the peaks than you get with some of the roller-coaster guys.