What was lost
Sundqvist may have been one of the biggest unsung heroes of the 2019 run to the Stanley Cup. Any of us that had doubts about why the Blues even bothered picking him up for Ryan Reaves had those questions erased.
He filled any role the team asked of him and was part of the best fourth line the team may have ever had. Despite playing predominantly on the fourth line, he still managed four goals and nine points in those playoffs.
Sunny, as he became known, was also a glue player. Though never a star, the team often still played worse when he was out of the lineup.
The social media consensus is that Sundqvist’s recurring trips to the injured list became too worrying, thus making his inclusion in the deal more palatable. This is a respectable take, but a little off the point.
Everyone has injuries and it’s not always a reason to send them away. David Perron looked like he might never be the same after his concussion at the hands of Joe Thornton, but every time we write him off, he storms back and scores a bunch of goals. Sundqvist might not be a scorer, but he was still an extremely versatile piece and also a good defensive player on a team a little short of defensive help, forward or blue liner.
Walman just became a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He will likely develop into a decent NHL player, but he may have always been on the outside, looking in, for the Blues.
No matter the team’s direction, Walman never seemed to quite fit the mold.
When the Blues had a big, strong defensive core, Walman was too young and too small. He was more likely to find his way into the team if/when the team started to transition to a more puck moving defense.
However, the Blues made a seismic shift in that direction almost all at once. While Walman was still developing in the minors, the Blues acquired Justin Faulk, Torey Krug and drafted a highly sought after prospect in Scott Perunovich.
In a very short span, the Blues became dominated by offensive defensemen. By the time Walman got a look, he was already too low in the pecking order. He became expendable.
Walman hadn’t yet become physical enough to fill that void and he wasn’t quite as skilled as those above him on the depth chart. Frankly, the move will probably be better for his career in the same way that it was better for Robby Fabbri to go to Detroit.