(For KSDK SPORTS) - As the 2013-2014 NHL Season draws to a close the St. Louis Blues find themselves in a very familiar situation where they try and figure out the best actions to take regarding the future of the team. Among those hard decisions yet to be made is what to do about long time Blue and fan favorite Patrik Berglund, who is set to be a restricted free agent (RFA) this June.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Patrik Berglund
There's no doubt in any St. Louis Blues fan's mind about whether or not Patrik Berglund can play, but can he deliver consistent points moving forward, or was this last season proof that he isn't the player the organization was hoping for? Bergy was in a contract year during the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, and managed to garner 25 points (17 G, 8A) in 48 games which led to a 1-year extension with the club, and another 3.25 million in his pockets. However this season he barely eclipsed that mark despite playing in 30 more games this season, and only showed signs of offensive greatness directly after the Sochi Olympic break (he ended the season with 14G, 18A, and 32 points).
Patrik Berglund has long proven that he's a contender on the ice, and a great teammate off it. He's molded his way into the very culture of the Blues team, and has been the apple of many a fan's eye. Early in his career he showed growth in his finesse and on-ice vision, which helped him become a pivotal part of the team's offense in the following years. His development took another great step over the past few seasons where he truly learned how to use his size to maneuver through corners and find high scoring areas, or open teammates to continue to pressure the opposition.
Make no mistake, Bergy is great with and without the puck, and plays a 2-way game that coach Ken Hitchcock loves, which shines through in his plus-10 rating this past season. But his up sides may not outweigh his downs at this point in the Blues future plans, which could spell a shake up in the organization.
Though Patrik Berglund does bring a lot of good to the table, he isn't without his pitfalls. Most notably his inconsistent scoring, minor injury problems, and lack of drive to bury opponents with his well above-average size. His tentative nature about playing in the corners has gone by the wayside more as he's developed, but still remains at times when the team truly needs his presence there. His scoring touch seems to come and go throughout each season, and though he has hovered above and below the 50 point plateau multiple times in his career, he was unable to do much in terms of scoring in high pressure situations this season and beyond.
This could normally be shrugged off as a bad year, but when a club only gives a player one more year on a contract it's normally to light a fire under them to see what they can truly do for the team, which didn't seem happen to Bergy. He didn't register a single playoff point in the 6 games he played this postseason, and that may have been the deciding factor in Doug Armstrong's mind.
Where to Go From Here
While Patrik Berglund remains a RFA this summer, the Blues will definitely need to give him a formidable qualifying offer to avoid arbitration, and to help their future trade cause (if they decide to part ways with him). If the Blues do decide to send Bergy on his way after the qualifying offer is declined they stand to gain some much needed draft picks in return, which could be a great pick-up for the club, but could also spell disaster for next season's campaign.
Doug Armstrong has quite the tough decision to make regarding the powerful finesse forward and no clear answer jumps off the page. If he can manage a deal that sees Berglund traded for a couple of draft picks (between the first and second rounds, which should come as part of a qualifying offer) and someone of significance, that may be the team's best move at this point as long as the forward who comes in can match or beat Bergy's average point production (around 35-45 points per season).
It may not be surprising to see him involved in a deal with the Colorado Avalanche that brings Paul Statsny back to his hometown, or possibly even a trade sending him to the Minnesota Wild for Matt Moulson (who happens to be another big question mark). A final scenario could be a multi-player and draft pick swap with the Montreal Canadiens bringing Thomas Vanek to St. Louis as well, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
If a trade is made and fans see Patrik leave St. Louis there may be some initial growing pains for whomever is brought in, regardless of their skill level and tenure in the league. Bergy is known to be a great locker room guy, and is well liked by all of his teammates. He has been instrumental in the development of Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, and has built up quite the chemistry with the dynamic duo, as well as other Notes members. This could be his saving grace in Doug Armstrong's eyes, but the end goal remains, a Stanley Cup in St. Louis, and soon.
Whatever move is made, the fans will wish Patrik Berglund all the luck in the world, as he has been a great team member and has given the area a lot to like about the club year after year. Though he may be nearing the end of his time in the Gateway to the West, he'll be in the league for years to come and will hopefully aid the Blues' Cup chances however things play out.
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