Blues 2021-22 Report Cards: Calle Rosen

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. 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.

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Every season, NHL teams have unlikely contributors step up and make a big impact. The Blues inarguably found that in Swedish defenseman Calle Rosen. The journeyman defenseman joined the organization as a depth addition, signing a one-year contract in July 2021. Few would have expected then that he would play 18 games with the team during the regular season, let alone nine playoff games. But Rosen rose to the occasion and performed his duties well, more than fulfilling the expectations for an AHL-level defenseman.

What Went Right: Rosen Rises Through the Ranks

Initially, Rosen looked set to be an American Hockey League (AHL) defender, as he had been several seasons before. He has excelled at that level in the past and did so again this season, with 28 points in 40 games during his time with the Springfield Thunderbirds in their first season as the Blues’ AHL affiliate (having canceled their 2020-21 season).

Related: Blues and Thunderbirds Hope to End AHL Futility Together

But a series of injuries and COVID-19 absences at the NHL level quickly forced the Blues to call Rosen into action. He debuted on Nov. 7 and played well in five straight games, before returning to Springfield (such is the fate of a player on a two-way contract). He’d be back several times, though, ultimately playing in 18 games during the regular season.

Calle Rosen St. Louis Blues
Calle Rosen, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

Rosen likely believed his NHL season was over when the playoffs began, but injuries to key defenders Torey Krug and Marco Scandella forced the Blues to dig deep for reinforcements. Rosen answered the call, and ended up playing nine of the team’s 12 playoff games, as they predominately chose to deploy 11 forwards and seven defensemen after their rash of injuries. Head coach Craig Berube didn’t shrink away from using Rosen, though: he averaged 14:28 per game in the playoffs. All told, Rosen did well in relief for the Blues — as well as anyone could reasonably have hoped for. But one moment looms above the others in recent memory — and it’s not a good one.

What Went Wrong: Collison with Binnington

In Game 3 of the series against Colorado, Rosen was involved in arguably the decisive play of the entire series. Seven minutes into the first period, Nazem Kadri lunged at a puck in front of Blues’ goaltender Jordan Binnington. Rosen crossed into his path, and the two collided, careening into Binnington. The goaltender would be unable to continue and would miss the rest of the series with a knee injury.

It is not our purpose to cast blame for the incident. Blues fans were quick to point at Kadri’s history of dangerous hits, but most impartial sources disagreed with that assessment and called it a clean hockey play. Whatever the case, Rosen’s involvement could have put a sour note on what was otherwise a very successful season. By all appearances, though, it did not, as we’ll discuss in just a moment.

Key Facts

  • 14:28 ATOI in nine playoff games
  • Second in assists amongst Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) defensemen (24)
  • Scored his first NHL goal since April 2019 with two goals on April 17

Final Grade: B+

As important as they are, it’s hard to get excited about depth defensemen. But let that take nothing away from Rosen’s performance this season. He rose to the challenge and played key minutes for his team in both the regular season and the postseason. He even managed a fantastic two-goal game that will likely go down as the best of his career! The incident in the postseason is clearly not something the organization holds against him, and now he is set to return to the Blues for two more years.

What’s Next for Rosen?

As we just mentioned, the Blues signed Rosen to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday. The contract is two-way, meaning the team will be able to freely move Rosen from the AHL to the NHL without worrying about potential waiver complications.

Rosen’s future with the franchise is secure, and he earned it this season. It might not be flashy, but depth defensemen who can provide solid support when the team is shorthanded are highly valuable. And the Blues proved how much they appreciated Rosen’s contributions by keeping him around for two more seasons.

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