Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I take full credit for the St. Louis Blues signing Oskar Sundqvist. Just days after I said they would do nothing this summer, they brought back a veteran for a price that is just right.
Some might call the Blues fortunes in the free agent market over the last six years dumb luck. Some may call it foresight of the market and hitting when the time is right.
Whatever the case may be, Doug Armstrong pulled another rabbit out of his hat. It’s not the whitest rabbit, nor the fluffiest, but it’s a sturdy rabbit that is going to get the job done.
Frankly, I was shocked to hear the news that Sunny days were back in St. Louis. Not only did I fully believe the Blues would not dip their toes into the free agent market, but I did not think for a second nobody would offer Sundqvist more than the veteran minimum.
Instead, the Blues swooped in and stole a very valuable player for pennies on the dollar. While it’s not apples to apples in terms of the timing, it’s reminiscent of how they waited and waited on Pat Maroon and then got their guy for a steal.
The great thing about bringing Sundqvist back is it gives the Blues depth and options. The addition of Kevin Hayes was already going to give Craig Berube options for what he could do down the middle.
That acquisition of Hayes meant that the Blues could either choose to put either him or Brayden Schenn on the third line, or go top heavy and move Schenn to a wing spot. Now, you have even more options.
The Blues were actually one of the only teams to let Sundqvist play center regularly. While it often was dependent on situation and lineup construction, he handled that responsibility well.
Sundqvist won just over 44% of his faceoffs with the Blues. That’s not spectacular, but it’s more than serviceable.
Or, St. Louis may choose to utilize him as a winger. Sundqvist isn’t a true offensive powerhouse, but he can chip in when necessary.
Nobody should be thinking this signing completely changes the Blues fortunes. Let’s not overlook that his career highs are 14 goals and 31 points. He was on pace for more than that during the covid year, but we’ll never know.
What we do know is he provides the Blues more versatility, depth and size. Sundqvist is a stout 6’3 and 220 lbs and won’t get pushed around.
He’s not really a net-front presence in terms of goaltender screening, but he gets to the front of the net. That’s something sorely missing from the Blues the last couple seasons.
Sundqvist is another man the Blues can trust on the penalty kill too. Any improvement there is welcome after a season where they had long stretches where you just assumed a goal was going in when the Blues were on the PK.
If you like some of the other metrics, his defensive point shares and overall point shares were never higher anywhere else than with the Blues. His defensive zone starts were also leaps higher with the Blues, showing that Berube knew he was dependable when there was a play about to begin in the Blues zone.
Sufficed to say, Sundqvist has every opportunity to have a similar resurgence this coming season to the one Sammy Blais had when he returned to the Blues. Perhaps it won’t be with goals, but there’s clearly a reason Sundqvist came back.
It wasn’t the money. I’m sure he could have had $775,000 from any team, and maybe more.
He wanted to come back to the Blues. As a member of the Detroit Red Wings, Sundqvist wore Blues shirts to Blues playoff games since the Wings were not playing at the time.
Who’s to say what it is about this area. Some of us that have lived here most, or all, our lives get a little jaded at times.
Blues and Cardinals players sure get taken with the area and can’t wait to come back if their experience was good. Sundqvist’s was good and like so many before him, he’s back.
The Blues are better for it too.
Let’s not compare this to the 2018 summer, because there was legitimate excitement over that team. Yet, we forget that it was tempered excitement because nobody thought they’d actually win that year. It was supposed to be a building block for a championship the next season or the one after.
The similarity lies in the shrewdness of the additions the Blues have made. They’re not championship caliber, but if players like Jakub Vrana and Kasperi Kapanen can play to potential and names like Blais and Sundqvist continue their recent Blues form, then St. Louis will definitely challenge for a playoff spot.
Even if we’re talking about just being in the running for the eighth spot at the end of the year, that’s more progress than many fans would have thought. Some gave the Blues up for dead for years while they totally rebuilt.
Instead, the re-tool is on and it’s going to be fun to see.