The St. Louis Blues said goodbye to Oskar Sundqvist earlier this week after trading him the Detroit Red Wings for Nick Leddy. Sundqvist was one of the most impactful bottom-six forwards in Blues history, being a part of their most consistent line during their 2019 Stanley Cup victory.
Related: Blues Add to Blue Line with Nick Leddy Deal
His personality and style made him one of the most popular players that the Blues have had over the last few seasons. He was consistently involved in team social media content, especially while recovering from his torn ACL. He was a fantastic player for multiple seasons, and that should always be remembered by the team and fans.
The Trade That Brought Him to St. Louis
This was one of general manager Doug Armstrong’s best trades in his illustrious tenure with the Blues. He was able to move on from enforcer Ryan Reaves, whose time had run its course in St. Louis, and he acquired Sundqvist and a first-round pick that became forward Klim Kostin.
The second-round pick that the Blues sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins was used to take defenseman Zachary Lauzon, who was sadly forced to retire in 2019 due to concussions. The Blues have seen Kostin play 46 games over the last three seasons, 40 of those have been this season. He’s a power forward and has shown flashes of great offensive ability this season. The future could be bright for him.
Sundqvist had played two games during the Penguins’ 2016 Cup run, so he brought some level of playoff experience to St. Louis. He was a third-round pick by the Penguins in the 2012 Draft and he always had some upside as a power forward with some skill.
His Career as a Blue
He played 242 of his 271 career games as a Blue, including becoming a mainstay on the third or fourth line since the trade. His chemistry with Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Steen was essential to the team’s success in the 2018-19 season after their slow start.
His play during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons was tremendous, as he tallied double-digit goals in both seasons while being one of the best defensive forwards on the team. The Blues will also miss him on the penalty kill; outside of Ryan O’Reilly, he was one of their most important penalty-killing forwards. The torn ACL that he suffered during the 2020-21 season has hurt his play and that is tough to see.
His numbers upon his return this season for the Blues were not bad, but he didn’t even look like himself on the ice. He had 15 points in 41 games while playing much less time than he had over the previous three seasons. There is a case to be made that Barbashev moving up to the middle-six affected Sundqvist’s play, as he and Barbashev were always tremendous together.
His career as a Blue will always be remembered positively. He was an impact forward and scored important goals throughout his career with the team.
The Future of His Career
Sundqvist is still only 28 years old and can be an impactful player on any team. His contract will be up after the 2022-23 season, so he will likely play the rest of this season and next in Detroit. He had two points in his first game as a Red Wing, including an empty-net goal, so he may fit right in there.
The bottom line is that Sundqvist is a winning player, and with Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman trying to build a winning culture, keeping him around would be wise. He fits into the group of power forwards that the Red Wings have and Yzerman clearly likes bigger forwards on the bottom six. The return that Detroit got for Leddy was a great one, and it all starts with Sundqvist. He should be a big part of their third or fourth line.
If he hits the open market after the 2022-23 season, he will have a lot of teams calling. He fits the mold of what the Tampa Bay Lightning have done with Barclay Goodrow and Brandon Hagel. Contending teams need a player like Sundqvist and he’s been a part of two Cup-winning teams for a reason.
The Blues loved Sundqvist as a player and person, so it has to be hard to move on, but they are doing so and wish him the best of luck. The Blues fanbase loves Sundqvist and hopes that he is successful in his future, even if that is with the old rival Red Wings.