It is that wonderful time of year in the United States. The time of year where we gather together and give thanks for what we have been fortunate to receive over the last year. To look back on what has happened and find the good in what may even be the darkest of areas. Let’s look at the St. Louis Blues franchise and see what there is to be thankful for this year.
Giving Thanks for Vladimir Tarasenko
The Blues came into the 2021-22 season with a large dark cloud hovering over them as fan-favorite Vladimir Tarasenko was still listed on the teams’ roster after requesting a trade during the offseason. Reports of the disgruntled forward left many fans and analysts wondering what type of disruption that a star player like Tarasenko would cause as the team looked to start the year on a positive note.
To the surprise of many, there has almost been a positive influence radiating from the forward rather than a negative. The star forward could have reported to St. Louis this season in a huff after not receiving his requested trade but has proven to be a true professional about the situation. Whether he is playing some of his best hockey in recent years due to his health, to increase his trade value or a bit of both, he seems to be caring more about the logo on the front of the jersey rather than the nameplate on the back.
Tarasenko has played in all 18 games this season and is currently fourth on the team with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists), a 73 point pace over 82 games. Over his last three seasons, he has played in 110 regular-season games and accumulated 92 points in that span. The forward has also played in 34 playoff games, where he totaled 19 points and one Stanley Cup. Though his trade request is still rumored to be active, he is doing everything he can to help the Blues win games and lead by example.
Blues Fans Should Be Thankful For Positional Depth
Whether it was COVID-19 or injuries sustained during gameplay, the Blues have experienced their fair share of adversity early in the season. Through 18 games, four players have missed a minimum of four games while in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Meanwhile, the team is still without a key component of their forward core in Brayden Schenn. He has not played a game since sustaining an upper-body injury in the first period of the teams’ matchup against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 4. It has not been all bad news for the Blues, though, as they welcomed back Oskar Sundqvist on Nov. 16.
Through the clubs’ health and injury woes, the teams’ depth has been tested. The Blues have seen an array of prospects flexed into the lineup through Joel Hofer, Scott Perunovich, Dakota Joshua, Calle Rosen, and Jake Neighbours. All of these players have been able to come into the lineup and not looked out of place. The Blues have proven that they do not always need flashy, high-profile prospects to succeed. The club can and has thrived on real ‘meat and potatoes’ type prospects to come in and round out the team to help move forward. It is for this depth, Blues fans should be thankful.
It is Time to be Thankful for Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas
It is no surprise that one of the biggest storylines of the 2021-22 Blues season has been the joint breakout of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. Two highly drafted, highly regarded prospects, Kyrou (23) and Thomas (22), have taken different paths to the NHL and are leading the team in scoring with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Before the 2021-22 season, Kyrou had played 99 games in the NHL, totaling 19 goals and 47 points. Averaging only 33 games played in each of his last three seasons, he finally earned his full-time role during the 2020-21 season. After scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 55 games during the 2020-21 season, a 56-point pace over 82 games, he has taken the next step forward in his development and has tallied eight goals and 10 assists in 18 games so far this season.
After signing a three-year extension in the offseason, Thomas was eager and poised to prove himself to be the player the Blues drafted him to be. Heading into the 2021-22 season, Thomas played in 169 NHL games totaling 22 goals and 87 points. During the absence of Schenn, Thomas has seen nearly four minutes more of additional ice time per game, as well as an additional 20 seconds of power-play time. The 2017 first-round draft pick has proven himself worthy of the other responsibilities as he is currently up 5.9% on his face-off win percentage (51.2%) and is on pace to nearly double his career average point total of 46 points to a whopping 77 points.
Time to Ask For Seconds
There is plenty to be thankful for this year if you call yourself a fan of the Blue Note. Things are looking up for the franchise that has recently stumbled since winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup during the 2018-19 season. Only time will tell what Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will choose or need to do with Tarasenko’s trade request. The team has plenty of prospects making their way to the NHL, pushing veterans for their ice time. The future remains bright in St. Louis as the club pushes for their second Cup and for that, fans should be thankful.
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.