While the St. Louis Blues sit at home with the NHL playoffs continuing in the background, the team’s offseason got underway in an unexpected fashion. The Blues lost a player that, quite frankly, many might have forgotten about.
Jacob de La Rose has left the team for greener pastures in Europe. de La Rose will return to his native Sweden, where he has signed a three-year contract, according to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch.
While the vast majority of trades Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has made turned out well in the favor of the Blues, this one ended up a dud. de La Rose came to the Blues with little production in his pocket, but a defensive mindset, some physicality and the potential to blossom into more.
The first two things were areas he continued to showcase while with the Blues. In 2019-20, he had 88 hits in just 34 games played, coupled with another 17 hits in five playoff games in the bubble.
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The Swedish forward averaged just over 10 minutes during that particular regular season and 9:35 in the playoffs. Those are not big minutes, but he was throwing the body around.
You would think that might fit right in with a Craig Berube team. The problem was de La Rose just did not provide enough elsewhere to keep himself in the lineup.
His big stake to being in the lineup was mainly an ability to fill in at center. While de La Rose is listed as a left winger, he was able to take some faceoffs and play up the middle.
Offensively, there just was not enough. Though de La Rose only played in 47 regular season games with the Blues, he only managed to scrounge up one goal and six points.
That goal came in his third game ever with the Blues. That means he went 44 games without a goal (49, if you include the playoffs).
On the positive side, this is financial flexibility for the Blues. It’s not as though de La Rose made a lot of money, but when you’re up against the salary cap, every dollar helps.
That contract was only costing the Blues $700,000. Nevertheless, even $500,000 might be the difference for some of the players looking for raises.
As far as the player is concerned, if he feels he can be more successful and happier in Sweden, more power to him. At 26, de La Rose had likely hit his ceiling, so perhaps he can make better or equal money and get a more prominent role back home.
"“The idea of moving home has been with me for a while, and now I felt that the situation was right” de la Rose via Farjestad website."
From a contract standpoint, this makes Armstrong’s job, and his staff, easier. de La Rose was eligible for arbitration, so now they can avoid those awkward discussions where they have to downplay any and all contributions made by a player to save a dollar.
However, the disappointing part is that the player is gone and the Blues completely lose out in the Robby Fabbri trade. Fabbri has not lived up to his potential either, but 24 goals over the past two seasons might have benefitted the Blues more than one.
That’s not apples to apples since Fabbri is playing higher up in the Detroit Red Wings’ roster than he would in St. Louis. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to just look at the numbers when the Blues no longer have the piece they acquired and Detroit does.
Overall, this is not a huge loss for St. Louis. It opens up a roster spot for someone like Klim Kostin to grab.
It does affect the team depth, however. 2020-21 proved that injuries can pile up in a hurry, so not having another body with NHL experience might hurt.
Or, it might give the team a spot to give another inexpensive free agent. We will see.