The St. Louis Blues’ 2021-22 season represented a major transition for the franchise. No longer a stout defensive team built from the blue line out, they finished second in the NHL in goals scored, with nine forwards recording 20-plus goals. Though the season came to an end in a six-game defeat by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, there are plenty of highs and lows to reflect on. In this series, we’ll evaluate each player who played 10 or more games with the team (as well as the head coach and general manager), grading their individual performance and looking at their future with the team.
What Went Right: Schenn Returns to Form
After experiencing one of his worst seasons offensively, Blues forward Brayden Schenn turned the page and set his sights on a new season where he was poised to be a key contributor, starting with a fight 40 seconds into the 2021-22 campaign against Colorado Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri.
Once the calendar turned to 2022, Schenn played 43 of the team’s 50 games, scoring above a point-per-game pace with 20 goals and 48 points. This placed him tied for 45th in the NHL in scoring, with Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, in that timeframe.
What Went Wrong: Ribs
Four times this season, Schenn was held out of the lineup. Three of these occasions were due to injury and re-injury to his ribs, and the other was due to COVID. His rib injuries forced him to miss 17 games, nearly 21% of the season. His final injury allowed him to return 11 days before the playoffs, and he recorded eight points in 12 playoff games, tied for sixth on the team in the postseason.
After the season, Schenn stated: “I’ve never broken a rib in my life, and one of those things where you get unlucky. Come back in the playoffs. Like I said, I’m not here to make excuses at all. I’ve got to find a way to score a goal and produce in the playoffs. I’m not using injury as an excuse. I’ve got to find a way to be better” (from ‘A big season for the Blues’ Schenn, just not for his ribs,’ St. Louis Post Dispatch, 6/13/22).
- 4.6 offensive points shares (sixth on the team); 1.9 defensive point shares (seventh on the team)
- 119 hits (fourth on team), an average of 1.92 hits per game
- 284-295 (49.1%) faceoff record
- 21.6 shooting percentage
Final Grade: A
The injuries to Schenn spoiled what could have been a career year for the 30-year-old forward. With 24 goals and 58 points over 62 games, he was on pace for 77 points over an 82-game season. He has been a picture of health for the Blues missing only 10 games over the last four seasons. Factoring in his injuries, his point production, and physical play, there is little not to love about what he brought to the team this season.
What’s Next for Schenn?
As one of three forwards who has a contract in place beyond the 2022-23 season, Schenn’s future is on lockdown in St. Louis. He is a prototypical, hard-nosed, physical forward who creates plays, score goals, kill penalties, and succeed in all areas of the game. While he has only surpassed 60 points once in his career, his point pace and production this season bode well for his future. Expectations should be tempered as he will turn 31 before the 2022-23 season and could see a drop off in his offensive production over the next few seasons. The Blues will need to continue their pursuit of a second Stanley Cup while they have a player like him still in his prime.