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.
Veteran leadership is what the St. Louis Blues needed from Tyler Bozak, and they got that in the time that he played this season. The production was not expected to be high for him, he’s nothing more than a bottom-six center at this stage, which is perfectly fine. This may have been the final ride for Bozak, and if so, he had a great career.
What Went Right: His Leadership on the Fourth Line
Whether it was helping to bring Alexei Toropchenko along or fitting in with his wingers, Bozak was great at those things this season. As mentioned above, the production was not what he was brought back for. His production has decreased in all four seasons as a Blue, but there is much more to his game than that.
His leadership was among the best that the Blues had during the season, especially with younger wingers like Toropchenko, Klim Kostin, and Nathan Walker. Another high point of the season for him was two playoff goals, including an overtime winner in Game 5 against the Colorado Avalanche. It was an uneven season for Bozak, but there is a lot to put in hindsight at the end.
What Went Wrong: Injuries Got Him Again
Appearing in only 50 games, injuries got the best of Bozak again this season. He has played 81 of a possible 142 games in the last two seasons, most of those being due to injuries. He recorded three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 50 games this season, including being a tough minus-11 in the plus/minus category.
The last two seasons have been filled with adversity for Bozak, but being able to come through twice in the playoffs had to be thrilling for him. At the end of the day, he’s been a quality center for the Blues and if this is the end, the signing was worth it for both sides. It’s easy to forget that the Bozak line with Robert Thomas and Pat Maroon was one of their best lines during the Stanley Cup run in 2019.
At the end of the day, it seems like Bozak’s best role right now is leadership and he showed that this season. He was a big part of Thomas’s growth last season, and injuries have kept him off the ice and that is never good for neither the team or player.
- Played his 800th NHL Game on Jan. 27 against the Calgary Flames
- Won 175 faceoffs – ranked fourth on the Blues
Final Grade: C
The expectations with Bozak were never high going into the season, and he was just about what the Blues likely expected. His faceoff percentage was under 50 percent for the first time since 2013-14. It was also his lowest point-per-game number of his career, but the expectations weren’t high enough to warrant a worse grade. He had a below average season, and that was the expectation for a 35-year-old fourth-line center.
What’s Next for Bozak?
It seems like retirement could be an option, and if it isn’t, the Blues could consider a minimum deal to bring him back. The team likely can’t guarantee that he’s on the fourth line and playing every game, but it’s still intriguing to have a veteran there. If this was the end for Bozak, it was a terrific career, and he will always be remembered as an important player in 2019.