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 one’s individual performance with an eye towards their future with the team.
In 2020-21, Sammy Blais went from receiving a two-game suspension to being sidelined due to COVID-19 to scoring huge goals to secure his team the victory; not many players had such a rollercoaster season.
In his fourth NHL season, Blais provided an offensive spark on the Blues’ fourth line. With his high-octane style, he created mismatches and generated breakaways. He was effective at using his physicality and made sure to finish checks, never allowing for an easy scoring chance in the defensive zone.
What Went Right: Fourth-Line Scorer
On a roster that struggled to produce offense this season, Blais played a pivotal role in the bottom-six. Being able to produce offensively and create chances for his linemates became valuable to the Blues’ success. With a career-high in goals (eight), he demonstrated that he is a reliable playmaker and scorer, and could grow into a larger role down the line. Using his speed and strength on the puck effectively, he often scored early in contests; both of his game-winning goals this season were scored before the third period.
His efforts took a heavy load off the Blues’ top forwards like David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly in close-game situations. Blais is a young player to watch as the Blues start to build for their future.
What Went Wrong: Slow Development
While this was a career year for the 25-year-old winger, Blais still hasn’t shown that he will have a long shelf life in the NHL. In four fewer games than last season, his production was only slightly better, with two more points in 2020-21.
Although improvement is still improvement, Blais has room for growth. His all-around skill set indicates he might be a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of player. He may not be a liability, but he has yet to show that he can be a difference-maker long-term.
However, injuries may have slowed his development. Blais was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list early in the season, which caused him to miss several games. Upon his return, he picked up where he left off before suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury towards the end of the season when he missed extended time as well.
Next season, as he enters a contract year, he will have to prove that he can be an effective player in the NHL for the foreseeable future. Blais will need to showcase his skillset and prove he has the talent, athleticism, and the intangibles to consistently be an effective member of the lineup.
- 15 points (career-high)
- 103 hits (third on the Blues)
- two game-winning goals (tied for third on the Blues)
Final Grade: B-
Neither a stud nor a hindrance, Blais earns a solid B- for his efforts in 2020-21. His impact offensively was incredibly valuable during the season, as well as in the playoffs. With great physicality and his fast-paced play, he generated high-danger scoring chances for his linemates and put opponents on their heels.
Blais’s game is still growing, but he will need to develop at a faster rate if he wants to live up to expectations. He needs to find his niche to maximize his effort moving forward.
What’s Next for Blais?
Blais has one year remaining on his two-year extension signed in 2019. Next season will be the most important one of his young career, as he hopes to improve on his puck skills and killer defensive edge.
He is also a question mark ahead of the expansion draft, as he is on a team-friendly deal and could provide youth with experience and skill on the Seattle Kraken’s roster. Blain has the potential to live up to expectations, but the 2021-22 season could be a make-or-break year for him.
Originally from Owen Sound, Ontario, Matt Eichhorn has spent the past 4 years studying the field of Sport Media at Ryerson University. Eichhorn is a life-long hockey fan with experience working in a variety of media roles around the game. Currently, Eichhorn covers the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers.