The St. Louis Blues 2021-22 season represented a major transition for the franchise. No longer a stout defensive team built from the blueline 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.
For the St. Louis Blues, they have tons of bottom-six depth forwards to use when needed and MacKenzie MacEachern is one of them. It was a different season for him, as some other depth forwards emerged ahead of him, which resulted in a short stay in the NHL this season.
The good thing for MacEachern is how he responded to not getting a lot of NHL time, which was what he did for the Springfield Thunderbirds in the American Hockey League (AHL).
What Went Right: Production in the Minors
MacEachern had his best offensive season in the AHL this year and he has carried it over to the playoffs as well. He’s played a lot of time on a line with Dakota Joshua and Will Bitten, and they’ve been solid in the postseason for the Thunderbirds.
Overall, he scored 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in the regular season. He had never scored over 20 points in an AHL season, so this was a great year for him. He capitalized on the elite offensive attack for the Thunderbirds, as he scored the second-most goals of his hockey career. The most being 14 in 2015-16 at Michigan State University, and he did that in 37 games.
In the AHL playoffs, where the Thunderbirds are in the Eastern Conference Final, MacEachern has five goals and five assists for 10 points in nine games. He played 10 playoff games for the Chicago Wolves in 2016-17 and had three points. His production has increased and part of that is due to the team he is on, as they are tremendous.
What Went Wrong: Career-Low Number of NHL Games
This certainly isn’t MacEachern’s fault, but he only played 14 NHL games this season. He had played over 20 games in each of the last three seasons prior to this one. A lot of this was due to players like Alexei Toropchenko, Nathan Walker, Joshua, and others who became some of the Blues’ key depth players in the bottom six.
MacEachern had two assists in 14 games this season in the NHL and didn’t make much of an impact overall. Once again, it’s not exactly his fault, but I’m certain the Blues wanted to see more from him in those games. His average time on ice was under eight minutes, so that’s another reason why he didn’t produce a lot. Overall, his numbers did not change too much from what they have been in his career so far.
- 0.14 assists per game with Blues – a career-high
- 2 shorthanded goals in the AHL
- 1.09 penalty minutes per game in the AHL
Final Grade: C
The Blues could not have expected much more from MacEachern, as he was a fill-in when he actually got to play. This grade is based on low expectations and the production he had in the AHL. His career will likely look like this moving forward unless he can solidify an NHL role, which doesn’t seem likely at this point.
What’s Next for MacEachern?
MacEachern will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer, joining a list of Blues depth forwards that include Joshua, James Neal, and Sam Anas. I’m not sure what will happen with him, as the Blues could bring him back on a minimum deal. He could also look elsewhere for a change of scenery or an opportunity to find a role in the NHL. It will be interesting to see how general managers view what he did with the Thunderbirds this season.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.