The St. Louis Blues haven’t done much to appease fans in the 2021 offseason. However, they are taking care of their own business.
With that in mind, the Blues took another step in fleshing out their minor league roster. Nolan Stevens has been re-signed to a one year, two-way contract.
Stevens was a fifth-round draft pick in 2016. He spent two more years at Northeastern after being drafted and even served as the team captain in 2017-18.
Since then, Stevens has settled into a minor league career. Stevens has played 137 AHL games over the last three seasons.
His rookie professional year was a steep learning curve. Stevens only had 18 points in his initial 59 games with the San Antonio Rampage.
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He would improve to 31 points in 50 games the following season. As with everyone, the pandemic has impacted things since.
Still, as pointed out by Pro Hockey Rumors, playing in Utica in 2021 seemed to revive him. Stevens scored six goals and 18 points in 27 games.
Considering Utica was a placeholder team since the Springfield Thunderbirds did not take part in the 2021 AHL, it will be interesting to see how Stevens produces with the Blues actual affiliate. It could be put up or shut up time.
Stevens is still quite young at 25, but he’s also getting to that age where if you have not reached the NHL at all, then you may not cross that threshold. The thing he’s got going for him is his versatility.
Stevens plays both left wing and center. While St. Louis is well stocked in the middle, they are thinner on the wings, providing a potential avenue for a call up should the Blues have an injury situation like we saw in 2021.
An interesting situation from the Blues standpoint is how much, if at all, they use Stevens at the NHL level. According to Pro Hockey Rumors, Stevens would need to see semi-regular NHL time for the Blues to retain his restricted free agent status.
If that does not happen, Stevens would become a Group-Six unrestricted free agent. So, basically, if Stevens doesn’t play in 80 games (he won’t), he’ll become a UFA. That doesn’t mean the Blues could not re-sign him again, but they would not control his rights and he’d be free to look anywhere.
So, it’s a crucial season for Stevens. He’s almost sure to hit the UFA market, so he needs to do as much as he can at both the AHL or NHL level to impress other teams. That would benefit the Thunderbirds and the Blues for this season, so all the best to him.