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 performance and looking at their future with the team.
Every competitive team needs great depth options they can turn to when they need someone to fill a role, and the Blues seem to have found that in Dakota Joshua. When general manager Doug Armstrong acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019, there were questions about whether he’d ever reach the NHL. But now, he’s turned into a very reliable depth option who can play center on the fourth line and bring the physical playstyle head coach Craig Berube likes. The Blues re-signed him entering the 2021-22 season, expecting more of the same. And that’s exactly what they got.
What Went Right: Reliability
Joshua played 35 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season with the Springfield Thunderbirds and 30 games in the NHL. He traveled back and forth a fair amount, which is expected for a depth forward on a two-year contract. But when he was part of the Blues’ roster, he managed to make an impact. He only scored three goals on the season, but two were game-winners. He added five assists, was a plus-eight, and averaged 8:30 per game. He was one of many Blues depth pieces to rise to the occasion this season.
Joshua also won 40 of the 75 faceoffs he got to take for a 53.3% success percentage. That might not seem significant, but having a defensive forward on the fourth line who can win faceoffs is an asset for a head coach. Joshua might not ever advance much beyond where he is now, but he’s a forward that Berube feels comfortable deploying when he needs to, and that will keep you on an NHL roster for a long time.
What Went Wrong: Playoff Absence
It’s nitpicking to complain about anything Joshua delivered this season. But he probably would have liked to be a bigger factor for the Blues in the postseason. Because the team largely went with an 11 forward, 7 defenseman lineup in the postseason, there was one less roster spot for him to get starts. He ended up playing only one game. That’s not his fault, of course, but it was certainly a disappointing end to his season. But he has five points in eight AHL playoff games, so he’s making the most of his next opportunity, as he always does.
- Won 53.3% of his faceoffs
- Two of his three goals were game-winners
- Led the Blues in hits per game (2.57)
Final Grade: B
Joshua was excellent in his opportunities this season. He is still a fourth-line forward, so his impact is limited. But when he got his chances, he shone. And now, he’s playing a role in Springfield’s deep playoff push. He’s a terrific asset to the organization, and they’re certainly thankful they resigned him before this season.
What’s Next for Joshua?
It’s hard to get too excited about a fourth-line forward. But Joshua more than fulfilled his duties. If anything, you’d expect him to see more playing time next season. He plays a strong and physical two-way game and wins faceoffs. Berube seems to love him. The Blues will almost certainly look to re-sign him for a one or two-year deal this summer and hope to have him back in the fold next season.