The last installment here at The Hockey Writers concerning the St. Louis Blues was a feature highlighting Patrik Berglund’s outstanding play for Sweden at the World Championships. Since then the focus immediately shifted to the team’s fairly lengthy list of restricted and unrestricted free agents.
First, Patrik Berglund signed a two-year deal worth a reported $4.5 million on May 31st, and stated that he was glad to spend the next couple years playing for the St. Louis Blues. Berglund showed what he is capable of during the World Championships but wasn’t a slouch during the 2010-11 season for the Blues either. Here the forward chipped in 22 goals and 30 assists over the course of 81 games. Still, fans are still expecting that he can take his game a step forward and be an even larger contributor to the team’s offense.
Berglund has shown flashes of his immense talent since his rookie season but hasn’t been able to put all of the pieces together for a truly great season. Fans believe that after his immense World Championship’s performance that 2011-12 will be the year everything clicks, but that’s a point worth discussing further down the road.
Next, the Blues announced on June 2nd that they had come to terms with another major priority, defenseman Roman Polak. The blueliner signed a five-year deal worth a reported $13.75 million. Obviously the organization and general manager Doug Armstrong believe that Polak is capable of being one of the best shutdown defenseman in the league and wanted to invest strongly in his future. At just 25, Polak could continue to improve on his the tenacious defensive skills he already possesses. The Blues believe he will be able to take on the opposition’s top-line and log a large chunk of minutes as the back.
I’m pleased with both of these contracts. Berglund is a player I believe was hyped a bit too strongly following his solid rookie season and was a case where I feel people expected too much, too soon. Throughout his time in St. Louis, it appears as if Berglund has always been one step away from tying the loose ends together and shifting from a solid player into an outstanding player. It’s encouraging to see what he did for Sweden at the World Championships, but I don’t think it is wise to buy into such a small sample and attempt to stretch it over the course of the 2011-12 season.
Polak’s deal might be a bit larger than some expected, but clearly the organization buys into his talent and didn’t want to risk letting him test the open market. One can imagine quite a few teams would have been very interested in Polak’s services had he indeed hit the open market. That being said, Polak already is a solid shutdown defenseman and if he progresses, could easily outperform his contract if everything remains on track.