The St. Louis Blues have high expectations for their blue line and figured they had a lot of depth at that position. That was put to the test and not everyone passed during the 2017-18 season.
Joel Edmundson is an interesting case study for the St. Louis Blues. He came into the NHL as a surprise, with next to no expectations and refused to let the team send him down to the minors in his rookie season.
He has continued to build upon his career rather quickly in the three seasons he has spent with the team. However, as your time in the league increases, you are held to different standards and the expectations become different.
Such is the case with Edmundson. Like many of his teammates, and the team as a whole, there were some disappointments based on what we thought was going to happen.
Final Grade: B-
Some are going to ask right away how a B- is going to be seen as a disappointment when some players on this team have barely taken passing grades. The reality is that Edmundson played well in spurts, but the expectation was also for him to potentially ascend to a top-two defenseman and he appeared unready for such a role just yet.
As far as the numbers go, Edmundson had a pretty good year. He set a new career high for both goals and points with seven and 17 respectfully. That is an increase of four goals and two points from his previous career bests.
Now, that is taken with a grain of salt since he only has two other seasons to compare with. Increasing your stats is never a bad thing on offense.
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Edmundson fell just two seconds shy of increasing his average ice time by a full three minutes from the previous season. Some of that time was earned and some was gained through injury.
That’s where Edmundson’s game fell off a little bit. He seemed to try to replace Jay Bouwmeester instead of being the best Joel Edmundson.
His hit numbers went down from the previous season, despite increased time and the same amount of games played. His block totals went up, coming close to doubling, with 150 blocked shots. Takeaways increased and giveaways were about the same.
Edmundson’s possession scores were right about where they were last season, with a slight uptick. Surprisingly, despite the increase in offense, his overall point shares went down slightly. Some of that has to be attributed to the Blues bleeding goals for much of the winter.
So, why the semi-mediocre grade? That’s where the eye test comes in and, for me, Edmundson did not pass with flying colors.
He played a good game, over the course of a season. However, once separated from the familiar, i.e. a partnership with Colton Parayko, Edmundson just did not look comfortable.
For months during last year’s offseason, I had pleaded with the team to pair Edmundson and Alex Pietrangelo together. When it finally happened, it was one of the worst things they could have done.
The pair seemed like they should have complimented the other’s strengths and covered for the other’s weaknesses. Instead, they both looked lost as to what their partner was doing. This led to a lot of miscommunication and standing around, which left people out of position.
Even beyond the somewhat failed partnership with Pietrangelo, Edmundson just did not look ready for a spot on the top pairing. He is a good defender, but still young and apparently not ready to guard the league’s top lines.
The positive for Edmundson is that he’s still very young. He may grow into a partnership with Pietrangelo, or at least prove that he is more than capable of being a top line defender.
Additionally, you can’t be too disappointed with a season grade of B-. Clearly every player sets out to have an A+ season, but anything above a C is quite acceptable.
That said, Edmundson’s B- just feels a little off. He’s capable of much more, especially as one of the team’s few stay-at-home defenders. He simply needs to get better adjusted and be able to deal with extra responsibility. Time will tell how well he fares with that.