Last year’s most covered player in the first half of the season is quietly enjoying the same production this year.
St. Louis Blues veteran forward Alex Steen is finishing his first year of a three-year extension that he signed in December of 2013 worth $17.4 Million. He was slated to be an unrestricted free agent but instead he will carry a cap hit of $5.8 million.This year see’s Steen earning $5 million, $5.8 in the second, and $6.5 in his last season of the deal.
He would have been a very sought out free-agent if he hit the market July 1st. In spite of this, Blues GM Doug Armstrong re-signed him at the perfect time and it was a savvy signing at that. Armstrong clearly saw Steen as a core member of the team and avoided losing a very valuable member to a bidding war.
The Swedish forward had 22 goals and added 14 assists at the time he signed his extension. He was tied for second in league goal scoring with Corey Perry only behind sniper Alex Ovechkin who had 28. While he was on pace for an unimaginable 68 goals he finished the season first on the Blues with 33 goals and 62 points. Offensively, it was a breakout season for Steen.
Steen Is Finding Consistency
However, the left-winger did not have the same early season success in the 2014-2015 season with only 5 goals in the first 23 games. He did what anyone would do, he changed something. After using the same stick throughout his nine-year NHL career he altered the curve on his stick, from a heel curve to a toe curve.
Although, that may not mean anything to the average fan, it’s further explained here in an article by Dan O’Neill. Steen shares why he decided to make the adjustment. It paid off in his first game using it, scoring 2 goals and an assist versus the New York Islanders. He hasn’t looked back since.
Fast forward to the end of March, through 71 games, Steen is second on the team in scoring with 23 goals and 61 points, or 0.68 points per game, which is down from last years 0.91 per game. Nonetheless, he is on pace to surpass last years total with 9 games remaining in the regular season.
The 7-year Blue reached a club milestone this past weekend as well in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. With 41% of his St. Louis point total coming in the last two seasons it’s safe to say that Steen is worth every dollar of the $17.4 million.
Steen with his 300th point as a member of the #stlblues
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) March 22, 2015
Steen leads the team in power play time per game at 3:35, tied for second in power play goals with 8, and tied for first in power play points with 24. He is the exact identity of this organization; a two-way skilled brand of hockey. He plays the Blues system of being patient in the offensive zone coupled with a hard-working, leave it all out on the ice, do whatever it takes to wear down opposing teams. He sets an example for everyone in the organization whether it’s with or without the puck. Steen is always finding ways to get the puck back to create chances for his line mates.
It’s a formula that’s worked for him and the Blues since Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench. His hard worth ethic is the one of the reasons why St. Louis is so frustrating to play against. He will be an integral piece of the Blues playoff run this spring and into the foreseeable future.