Blues 2020-21 Report Cards: Vince Dunn

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.

This is an odd one, as Vince Dunn has been an important piece to the Blues’ success in the last couple of seasons, but dealt with injury issues in this crazy 2020-21 season. It’s possible that we’ve seen the last of Dunn as a Blue – with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft looming, he could be left unprotected. The Blues weren’t close to touching the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, but I’ll always believe they would have been better with Dunn in the lineup.

What Went Right: March and April Pre-Injury

From the middle of March to the middle of April, Dunn played some great hockey. He showed how important he is to the Blues with his puck-moving ability and solid defensive play.

In those 13 games, he scored three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Five of those points came on the power play, I’ve always thought that Dunn was a great second-unit quarterback, and he has shown the ability to do that over the first few seasons of his career.

Vince Dunn St. Louis Blues
Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The other thing with Dunn is when he is motivated – which he clearly has struggled with at times – his hockey sense can be elite. He has scored so many goals where he gets through traffic with perfect patience and timing.

What Went Wrong: Inconsistency and Injuries

Dunn was a healthy scratch early in the season, with reports indicating that the Blues were shopping him and could cut ties. That didn’t happen, and it may have motivated him, as he started to play well upon his return.

The Blues have always wanted to keep Dunn engaged so he can play a full, 200-foot game. He can be as good as it gets for them when he is healthy and motivated, both of which he struggled with this season.

Vince Dunn St. Louis Blues
Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He played third-pairing minutes for a lot of the season, and didn’t see much consistency in his play or his partner on the back-end. I don’t know if the Blues will ever find a consistent Dunn.

We’ll see if we ever find out what was wrong with Dunn, as he played his last game of the season in late April and missed the Blues’ first-round matchup.

Key Stats:

  • Playoff Stats: Did Not Play
  • 7 power-play points
  • 73 shots on goal (SOG) (7th on Blues)

Final Grade: C-

This is one of those situations where a player played well when he was on the ice, for the most part, but he struggled to stay healthy. It was an odd season for Dunn, from possibly being traded, to playing well, to getting injured.

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I think Dunn is capable of being the second or third-best defenseman on the Blues if he is on the ice. We saw that potential and his importance to the 2019 Stanley Cup-winning team, but he hasn’t been the same since.

Either way, Dunn couldn’t stay on the ice this season – if he did, we may have seen a much higher grade for him.

What’s Next for Dunn?

A lot of uncertainty is coming for Dunn this summer. He is a restricted free agent and is likely to be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft if the Blues only protect three defensemen due to their forward depth. I would assume they would protect Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, and Justin Faulk over Dunn.

If I were Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, I would try to find a way to keep Dunn, whether that is making a deal with the Kraken to get them to take somebody else, or getting lucky with them passing on him. The Blues need Dunn to be healthy and on the team in 2021-22, but that may not happen.