The St. Louis Blues’ 2020-21 season had its highs and lows, but ultimately ended in disappointment after the team fell in four games to the Colorado Avalanche in Round 1. In this series, we’ll look back on the season, player by player, and evaluate each player’s performance as an individual, with an eye towards their future with the team.
What a crazy first season it was for Jake Walman, as he found himself to be an important piece on the back-end for the Blues, playing in 24 games prior to a stint on the COVID-19 list to end the regular season. He played one career game during the 2019-20 season against the Vegas Golden Knights where he was a plus-1, but never found his way back until early February of this season.
What Went Right: He Got to Play
Coming into the season, I don’t think Walman was in the picture as a potential mainstay on the Blues’ back-end. Despite playing in a game last season, the Blues had a lot of healthy defenders ahead of him at the start of the season.
He played his first game of 2020-21 in early February after Marco Scandella missed a game, so he filled in and played just under six minutes against the Arizona Coyotes.
He went on to play 24 games and was a mainstay in the lineup. He was an aggressive player with the puck and an aggressive skater – those are the two things that jumped off the page.
For a player that played less than 15 minutes per game on average, he had 47 shots on net and threw 26 hits. I like those traits for him.
What Went Wrong: Stint on the COVID-19 List
Despite being vaccinated, Walman tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on the NHL’s protocol list on May 12, virtually ending his regular season.
The Blues defensive group was heavily beaten up heading into the playoffs and it showed with their loss to Colorado. Walman did end up playing in Game 4 of the series and logged one shot in over 15 minutes on-ice.
At the end of the day, many Blues fans, including myself, were gutted for Walman. Ending up on the COVID-19 list was brutal after he was such a solid player overall in a huge season for him personally.
- Playoff Stats: 1 game, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
- 8 penalty minutes (third-fewest among Blues who played over 20 games)
- 20 blocked shots (Top 15 on Blues)
Final Grade: C+
We didn’t expect much from Walman, I actually didn’t think he would play more than a game or two this season, but he was solid enough to earn this grade.
His numbers weren’t the best, but going by the eye test, I’d say he showed flashes of being a serviceable defenseman for the Blues going forward. Like I mentioned above, it is all about skating and aggressiveness for him.
What’s Next for Walman?
In terms of his contract, Walman is set to make $725,000 in the 2021-22 season, with an expiration after as he would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022. He, like Niko Mikkola and a few others, will likely get a chance to break into the lineup or stay with the Blues in the 2021-22 season.
I expect Walman to play some games next season after inevitable injuries and other things arise – he will be on the list of two or three that will get that chance. Either way, Walman will be a player to watch in 2021-22 to see how much his 2020-21 season carries over.