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: Scandella’s Deployment
While the 32-year-old defenseman is not the flashiest player on the team, he is that can be inserted into the lineup and play a consistent role with his teammates. The St. Louis Blues were a team that had multiple question marks surrounding their blue line and whether the front office would move any players out before the trade deadline. As the season moved on, injuries and battles with COVID made a potential trade difficult to swing. He remained a heavily rumored trade piece for the Blues.
Marco Scandella remained a consistent piece of the team’s bottom pairing unit that could play up and down the lineup as needed. Playing in 70 games this season, the most since his 2017-18 season with the Buffalo Sabres, he scored three goals and 14 points, a 0.20 point per game pace that matches his running three-year average. Due to a lack of viable left-shot defensemen, he started the season on the top pairing unit with Colton Parayko, playing in a role that was asking too much of him. However, as the season moved along and he was no longer asked to play beyond his means, Scandella remained a useful option for the Blues at five-on-five play and on the penalty kill. He ended the season as a plus-17, and on the ice for only eight power play goals over 155 short-handed minutes.
What Went Wrong: Scandella’s Inconsistency
A defensive-minded player like Scandella is someone that should fit well within the Blues system. The team and fans have seen and loved his style of play. However, they have also witnessed some lapses in judgment that left many wondering “why?” when it comes to his continued deployment. He remains a player that has polar opposite highs and low’s and never remains a consistent, reliable defenseman for more than a handful of games at a time.
Related: Blues 2020-21 Report Card: Marco Scandella
While injuries may have played a factor in his play this season, Scandella was a player that could not afford to play, depending on the opponent and whether he was playing well or poorly over the last few games. He missed over 20 games between the regular season and the playoffs due to a lower-body injury that spanned over games in Feb. and March and at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs and a final lower-body injury during Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild.
- Career high 70 hits this season
- Defensive Point Shares: 3.5
- 27th on the team (43.4%) in CF%
Final Grade: C
Scandella did not play a great season, but did have a horrible season either. A year of inconsistent deployment, pairings, and return to normalcy left him with his fair share of adjustments to deal with. He has proven that he cannot play top-pairing minutes for long stretches of time and will need to be a bottom-pairing deployment option moving forward.
What’s Next for Scandella?
While the club has multiple options to insert on their left pairings, it seems that Scandella may be an odd man out. As Torey Krug was projected to be a top-pairing option with Parayko, the chemistry has not matched well, leaving him to be a strong second-pairing option for the team. After being acquired to be a Jay Bouwmeester replacement, this leaves Scandella to either play top minutes alongside Parayko, or bottom-pairing minutes with a multitude of partners including Niko Mikkola and Robert Bortuzzo. The up-and-coming defenseman Scott Perunovich has proven he can play in the NHL and will likely demand a full-time role and role that could come at the expense of Scandella. With a seven-team no-trade clause and a $3,275,000 price tag over the next two seasons, he may be a casualty as the team looks to become more budget-friendly to account for larger contracts coming due.