This may very well be a moot point after the trade deadline. Doug Armstrong may move Berglund to another contender for a prospect and/or pick. But let’s assume that Patrik Berglund plays out the year for the Blues. Then he becomes a free agent, and the Blues have a decision to make.
Does Doug Armstrong offer the Swedish centerman another contract? Or does he let him walk to another team? Berglund for years has been a player on which Blues fans love to hate. Some of that is unwarranted, of course. Berglund has been a productive two-way forward for several years now. He’s twice topped 20 goals in a season. He’s anchored the middle 6 forwards for many different Blues rosters.
But Berglund can be very streaky. His point production hasn’t passed 38 points since his third season in the league, when he scored a career-high 52 points. The Blues, and their fans, thought he was slowly blossoming into a top 2 center, but instead he’s settled into a third-line role.
In the summer of 2014, after he scored just 14 goals, the Blues extended him to a three-year, $11.1 million contract. This struck many in the fan base as odd, as at the time, a forward earning almost $4 million per season was usually a top 6 forward. Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis, in the summer of ’14, signed a 5-year, $23 million contract. He put up 89 points over the 2013/14 and 14/15 seasons. The Canadiens’ David Desharnais, in the spring of 2013, signed a 4-year, $14 million contract. He scored 100 points over the next 2 years.
Berglund, however, notched just 12 goals the year following his extension. Many fans viewed Berglund as overpaid and under-producing.
This year he’s had a goal resurgence, with 17 over 57 games played. But it seems his play-making ability has decreased recently. He had just 5 assists last season, and has just 7 so far this season. Let’s not fail to consider the contract year factor. This wouldn’t be the first time, nor will it be the last, that a player with an expiring contract plays well to raise his value and negotiating power for his next contract. During the 2014-15 season, Matt Beleskey scored a career-high 32 points before becoming a free agent. Thomas Plekanec put up a very respectable 54 points in 2015-16, earning a 2-year, $12 million extension.
So the Blues may well be tempted to try to bring Berglund back. But this would be a mistake. Players don’t often take pay cuts, and, especially if he notches 20 goals this year or more, Berglund will be asking for more than $4 million a year. Since history shows that he’s as likely to NOT score 20 goals in a season, he’d be (again) overpaid.
The Blues would do better to bring in a new face, hopefully a genuine top 2 center next year. Ivan Barbashev is playing well, and he could be a candidate to take over the middle of the third line. Doug Armstrong will need Berglund’s cap space, and Kevin Shattenkirk’s, in order to accommodate that center.
Berglund has had a very nice career for the Blues. But it’s time for him and the team to amicably part ways.
Thanks for reading.
*Image courtesy Wikipedia Creative Commons