After a slow start to the season for newly-extended St. Louis Blues stars Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, the young duo is starting to turn the corner and proving that they were worth the eight-year $65 million contract they signed in the offseason.
The Blues put their future stock in two players despite knowing that they could potentially lose two cornerstone players to free agency after the 2022-23 season in Vladimir Tarasenko and captain Ryan O’Reilly. Despite the two pending unrestricted free agents, locking up Kyrou and Thomas was essential.
Thomas and Kyrou are precisely where you want your recent $8 million players when it comes to the points leaders on your team. Thomas’ 23 points on the season lead the team, as well as his 18 assists, while Kyrou is right behind him with 22 points and has the team lead with 10 goals.
The point-per-game pace is something the Blues would be content with, and that production will keep Blues fans happy for a long time. Both Thomas and Kyrou have the skill to be 90-point players, but for different reasons. Kyrou is an elite goal scorer, while Thomas is one of the game’s best playmakers. Either one of those players is capable of a four-point night at any time.
Did the Blues Sign Kyrou Too Early?
For fans, however, the massive contract for Kyrou was perceived by many as too early, as the 24-year-old was coming off the first offensively potent season of his career. Before his 27-goal season in 2021-22, he had recorded 19 goals through his first three seasons in the NHL.
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The former second-round pick would go on the finish tied for third on the team in scoring last season, falling behind Tarasenko, and Pavel Buchnevich, and was tied with David Perron. His 75 points on the year was a career-high for Kyrou, and it would be good for fourth on the team.
His season was highlighted by a four-point performance at the Winter Classic against the Minnesota Wild. After recording two goals and two assists in spectacular fashion, he put his name on the national radar.
Kyrou’s stellar 2021-22 campaign earned him his first all-star game appearance, and he won the fastest skater competition at the skills competition in Las Vegas. He beat out some of the top skaters in the league, like Connor McDavid, Dylan Larkin, and Cale Makar.
The Blues’ speedster took a dip in scoring after the all-star break. He would go on to have a stretch of going scoreless in 15 of 16 games through the month of March and into April, which brought the timing of Kyrou’s contract into question in the offseason.
Kyrou had a relatively slow start to the 2022-23 season (from ‘Blues’ Jordan Kyrou ‘fighting it’ so far in 2022-23. What’s behind his slow start?’, The Athletic, 10/27/2022) after the slow end to his 2021-22 year. He had just one point through the team’s six games and three points through the Blues’ first nine games. However, he has turned the corner as of late and is producing at a point-per-game clip.
Through his last 12 games, Kyrou has netted 17 points, six goals, and 11 assists. He has just one power-play goal through that stretch, but he is producing at even strength with five scores at five-on-five. St. Louis locked up a great player at the right time.
Thomas Is a Superstar in the Making
There was no question that Thomas deserved his offseason contract. At 23 years old, locking up the potential Blues captain for the next eight years was a no-brainer for general manager Doug Armstrong. After two solid years to start his NHL career, an injury-plagued season cast doubt on his ability to produce at a constant clip.
Every shred of doubt from Blues management and Blues fans was erased after a spectacular 2022-23 season. The young forward posted his first 20-goal season in the NHL and finished second on the team in points after adding 57 assists to reach his 77-point total. What is even more impressive about his 2021-22 season is 15 of his goals came at even strength.
However, it isn’t his scoring ability that makes Thomas such a threat for other teams and a gem of a player for St. Louis. Thomas has elite playmaking ability. Through his first five years as an NHLer, Thomas has already amassed 140 assists in 266 games.
Despite the Blues’ up-and-down start to the season, Thomas has been rock solid for his team. His ability to play on any line has given head coach Craig Berube some much-needed flexibility when trying to tinker with the lineup during tough stretches.
Thomas is the perfect candidate to replace O’Reilly as the next Blues captain if St. Louis does not sign him to an extension or re-sign him in the offseason. Thomas plays the game the right way and is one of the only players on the team that will make you lean forward in your seat every time he has the puck.
The Blues may be in a limbo situation when it comes to the NHL standings, but they have locked up two of the best young players in the NHL. Thomas and Kyrou are the perfect duo to build a forward group around, and their presence on the ice should give Blues fans something to be excited about for the next eight years.
Covering the St. Louis Blues at The Hockey Writers, Jason Martin has spent time covering professional and college sports for almost a decade, including stops at Troy University and Auburn University at Montgomery. He currently resides in Alabama with his wife, Matty.