Over the off-season, Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues hurt himself in the weight room. The circumstances weren’t entirely specified, but Berglund had to undergo shoulder surgery. The freshly-minted center will miss the beginning of the season now. In fact, it’s predicted that he won’t return until December. While it’s sad to have anyone injured, there are pros and cons to the Patrik Berglund injury.
The Patrik Berglund Injury is a Positive and a Negative for the St. Louis Blues
Now 29, Berglund was expected to be a for-sure part of the shaky bottom six in St. Louis. He was getting paid for the part too. Last season, Berglund signed a controversial contract that virtually guarantees him a spot on the Blues until he’s 33. The deal contains a no-trade clause, in all but the first year, where Berglund can submit a list of 15 teams he would not be willing to be traded to. This limits the Blues ability to get rid of the bottom six forward significantly.
With the price of his contract, and so many important deals looming, this could be drastic in shaping the future of Blues lineup. The price of the contract is likely the worst aspect of it. He’ll fall in at an undeserved $3.85 million throughout his deal.
The contract has becomes even less favorable considering the team has smoothed out their rough edges over the course off-season. The Blues added a few new players who may contest for Berglund’s role throughout the upcoming seasons. Oskar Sundqvist, Beau Bennett, and a handful of prospects including Ivan Barbashev could easily take the third line wing or center spot that he would’ve filled.
Pros of the Injury
This leads into the biggest pro with Berglund’s injury. While it’s hard to have any players out for a prolonged period of time, it’s going to give a lot of other players a chance to get ice time. There are two holes in the Blues lineup as of right now. One is on the third line, as Berglund won’t be playing. The other is on the fourth line wing due to the departure of Scottie Upshall. Zachary Sanford is hoping to fill Upshall’s role since his playing style mixes well with Kyle Brodziak and Sundqvist. That leaves one spot open on the team to be filled by Barbashev or Bennett.
Who Will Fill the Spot?
The spot will be alongside Vladimir Sobotka and likely Dmitrij Jaskin. Barbashev fits the playing style that line will have better than Bennett does. The three paired together could be fairly impressive. Barbashev adds a lot of speed and playmaking ability to the mix of goal-scoring and offensive awareness that Sobotka and Jaskin provide. While Bennett is also offensively gifted, Barbashev’s awareness will likely win him the spot.
Cons of the Injury
The injury limits the team a lot, though. It’s not ideal to have such a young bottom six. Even though they’ll very likely be able to carry their weight, veteran experience is always a plus. Berglund was a great veteran to have in the middle. While he hasn’t been dazzling through his career, he’s been a fairly consistent and reliable forward.
Berglund’s Role in St. Louis
A 30 point third liner could mean the difference between wins and losses in a season. For a team that has seen their fair share of challenges, Berglund has been a nice piece to have. He’s also seen his fair share of top line and bottom line minutes. He’s set his tent on the third line but has fluctuated throughout the lineup. A positive face in the locker room, he seems to find a way to fit into any line. He’s also flexible and can play wing or center without any problems.
Struggles Last Year
At the beginning of last season, Berglund had a lot of inconsistencies. Before January, he only had 11 points. Fans were starting to lose hope in Berglund, and it was clear the organization was too. It lit a fire under the forward, and he had 14 points in January and February alone. The team rewarded him with a four-year contract extension, but they seemed a little worried that it was too soon. While the fire did stay alive for the rest of the year, he hasn’t earned his deal yet.
The beginning of this season was very important for Berglund. He needed to show his worth before December, but now it looks like he won’t be able to even play until then. Now, instead of having a few months to become a consistent player, he’ll likely only have until February. He’ll also have to find his groove again after being injured. It’ll be very difficult for Berglund to bounce back and meet the expectations that the other bottom six players will have set by then.
Overview of the Situation
Overall, it’s hard to say whether the injury helps the Blues more than it hurts them or vice versa. It gives them the chance to test out young players who might not have gotten ice time otherwise. It’s a great opportunity for them to gauge how their future is lining up. It’s at the cost of an important veteran. On the personal level, this season is an important one for gauging the rest of Berglund’s career and he’s, unfortunately, missing a majority of it. There are pros and cons, but either way, the team will want Berglund back as soon as possible.
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