Blues 2020-21 Report Cards: Zach Sanford

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 the most interesting one yet, Zach Sanford has been beaten up and criticized by the Blues’ fanbase all season long. Whether it is right or wrong, we’ll delve deep into the season it was for Sanford, one that was not up to the expectations based on the year he had in 2019-20.

What Went Right: He Played a Lot of Games

Sanford’s season in 2019-20 was actually pretty good, he had scored 16 goals and a total of 30 points in 58 games. He was always going to get a chance to play this season, but, little did the club know, he would regress this much.

He barely reached 10 goals and went for 16 points in 52 games. He played all but four games for the Blues this season, despite the fans roasting him throughout.

Zach Sanford St. Louis Blues
Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Bottom line, he’s played in 183 games in parts of the last four seasons with the Blues and the results are not there. He looked like a completely different player in 2020-21 in comparison to 2019-20 – he was less aggressive and didn’t make enough smart hockey plays.

I think the fact that he didn’t play with Ryan O’Reilly or David Perron, as he did previously, hurt his game a lot, but he didn’t earn that opportunity this season.

What Went Wrong: Everything Else

His production was down, he had too many costly turnovers and he showed zero sign of aggressiveness for many of the 52 games.

He was playing on the fourth line for a lot of the season and rightfully so, and it is puzzling that he played over Klim Kostin down the stretch. Kostin was coming off of a KHL title run where he played key minutes – why didn’t St. Louis give him a chance here? Who knows at this point.

Zach Sanford St. Louis Blues
Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He scored 4 points during the final 26 games of the season, his ice-time was down and he was a minus-11 on the plus/minus scale. It begs the question of why he was playing in these games, and it is puzzling to many of us. He took 19 shots in those 26 games, well under a shot a game – it is flat-out unacceptable.

Key Stats:

  • Playoff Stats: 4 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
  • Minus-13 plus/minus (Worst on team)
  • 44 blocked shots (6th on team)

Final Grade: D+

The expectations for Sanford were far higher than maybe they should have been, but that was all based on his season in 2019-20 and the playoff run he was on when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2019.

Latest Blues Content:

He had the worst healthy season possible – he played a lot of games and didn’t produce, a double whammy. This grade may be looked at as unfair in the sense that it wasn’t harsh enough, but he did score double-digit goals.

Zach Sanford, Mikko Rantanen, zach sanford, vladislav Kamenev
St. Louis Blues left wing Zach Sanford and Colorado Avalanche center Valdislav Kamenev (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s just that his second half of the season was so horrendously bad, that the grade had to be harsh.

What’s Next for Sanford?

Sanford could be a name that is floated within trade rumors, and if the Blues make a significant move, he could be looked at as a throw-in on one of those deals. If not, I would think the Blues have him as a potential player that could miss the cut on the lineup – either way, his spot on the 2021-22 squad isn’t guaranteed.

Sign up for our regular 'Blues Newsletter' for all the latest.