The St. Louis Blues took a bit of a gamble on Oskar Sundqivst, mainly based on his inclusion in the trade of a popular player. Unfortunately, they rolled snake eyes on this one.
When the St. Louis Blues traded Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it drew some outrage among the fans. However, the main part of the deal was the inclusion of the draft pick that would become Klim Kostin. We will still be waiting to see if that works out.
Fans could be forgiven if they had puzzled looks or shoulder shrugs with the other name in the deal. No offense, but even the most hardcore among us had not heard of Oskar Sundqvist.
Coming into his first season with the Blues, Sundqvist had a total of 28 games played with Pittsburgh, spread over two seasons. He amassed a total of one goal and four points in those two seasons. Unfortunately for him, all of them came in his rookie season. There were big goose eggs in year 2.
Final Grade: D-
Call me a softie, but I just could not give him an F. Sundqivst goes out there and he tries. He’s simply not that good right now, if he can ever be.
The problem is two-fold. He was included in the aforementioned trade, so he is somewhat judged based on who the Blues gave up. That might be unfair, but that is the reality.
What became unfair, at least in the eyes of the fans, was the Blues continuing to play a struggling Sundqvist. As the season wore on and there were players that had a higher ceiling not being given the opportunity, it seemed as though the Blues were trying to justify Sundqvist’s inclusion in the trade. You would hope that is not accurate, but it’s hard to keep that thought out of the brain.
If you’re looking for positives, Sundqvist did set a personal best for points in a season. He had five points and a goal, besting his previous best by one. The problem is he came close to doubling his games played in his career. Five points in 42 games doesn’t get the needle moving.
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The other positive would be faceoffs. 44% is not great, but for a team that struggled in that department most nights, he won his fair share.
Outside of that, it’s just hard to see what the scouts have seen in him. He was sold as a mobile, big-bodied center. The only truth to that is the big body.
He was, to the eye anyway, slow as could be. His footwork was terrible defensively, which often left him scrambling to catch up.
For a bigger guy, he was often weak on the puck. Statistically, he was not that bad, only giving the puck away six times in 42 games, but he was not normally winning the gritty puck battles required of a player in his spot.
He did not move the puck all that well. You could attribute it to the fourth line spot he was given, but others have done much more in the same situation. Unlike those other names, nobody was ever clamoring for Sundqvist to have a spot higher up the roster.
His possession metrics are far below what they need to be, coming in 3-5 points below the averages meaning the team had higher possession metrics when he was off the ice. He also had an astounding 66.4% of his zone starts in the defensive zone. Some of that is due to line changes, but much of it is getting caught out on the ice for icings or simply getting stuck in your zone.
Whether the Blues bring back the Swede remains to be seen. He certainly did not earn a contract, but he is inexpensive, a restricted free agent and has NHL experience.
We’d all prefer his spot go to a prospect. We all know how these things work out sometimes though.
Personally, and those that read my articles will know these sorts of statements almost never come from me, he needs to move on. Maybe it’ll click with another team or maybe a stint in the minors will do him good.
Even as confusing as the Blues claim to be, trying to be fast but not accomplishing it and trying to still be physical but not having the bodies, he just does not fit. Usually there is always something positive to hang your hat on, but for the man who wore 70, I cannot see it.