The title of this article is a loaded question. Berglund and the Blues are just 25 games into their 2013-14 schedule and to use a tired expression, there's a lot of hockey left to play. Still, it's never too early to assess, analyze and predict. In Berglund's case, the forward was given a "prove yourself" contract at the end of 2012-13 and would have to show the Blues something special in order to receive a longer, larger contract.
How has Berglund performed to date? Is his effort and numbers worthy of a new deal?
Let's start with Berglund's numbers. As always, it should be noted that numbers are only one part of the story. Effort, determination and other intangibles aren't reflected in the usual statistics we follow. With that being said, here's what Berglund has been up to this season and since he made his NHL debut.
2013-14: 22 games - 1 goal, 7 assists.
2012-13: 48 games - 17 goals, 8 assists.
2011-12: 82 games - 19 goals, 19 assists.
2010-11: 81 games - 22 goals, 30 assists.
2009-10: 71 games - 13 goals, 13 assists.
2008-09: 76 games - 21 goals, 26 assists.
It's safe to say Berglund is off to a slow start this season. He has averaged roughly 15-20 goals a season and is currently way off of that pace. Considering Berglund again raised expectations after scoring 17 goals in an abbreviated season last year, his slow start is pretty disappointing and pretty discouraging.
The numbers depict a grim picture. Berglund was given a one-year, $3.25 million contract from the Blues after what most would describe as a successful 2012-13. The message was clear: You'll have to prove yourself again before we give you more money and more years.
If you take a quick look at the numbers, you might think Berglund has been a bum and by no means deserves a new deal. This isn't the whole story. Berglund has been skating hard (particularly of late) and is clearly working hard. Though his goal and point totals are pretty worrisome, it's not for a lack of effort. But how far does hard work and good intentions take you? Not very when money and depth are tight.
In my opinion - and keep in mind that it's early - Berglund isn't worthy of a new multi-year contract. This opinion may change, but based on how tight the team's finances are and how Berglund has been playing, I can't imagine locking him up for several years and several million. Several times he has shown glimpses of greatness, but he always seems to be one step away from truly being a major contributor. He has proven he can be a 20-goal scorer, but he has also proven he can be almost completely absent from the scoring sheet for weeks at a time.
Berglund's future also hinges on his own expectations. He's at the stage of his career where he'll probably be expecting a longer deal. If he's comfortable with a deal similar to the one he's currently playing under, I'd happily welcome him back. If he wants a raise and several years...not so much.
The Blues have several difficult roster decisions to make this season. Considering the team's other pressing issues (figuring out their goaltending, signing Steen), Berglund's situation might not even be on the radar at this time.
The jury is still out, but Berglund will need to start producing more regularly if he wants more money and more years.
Something else that should figure into this is the Blues deplorable lack of organizational depth at center. Before we forget, it's entirely possible for solid players to have down stretches, or down years. See also last year's numbers from David Backes, for one recent example.
That said, what gets a deal done with Berglund? Three years at 4M/year? If he maintains his continued improvement on the defensive side of things, and rebounds to something resembling his career numbers, does that qualify as reasonable? And, just to put an opposite spin on things, if he doesn't rebound numbers-wise, can you justify those dollars for such production from a third-line center? (Especially in the salary cap era?)
If he's looking to get paid like Backes or Oshie, he's going to have to step up, and do so this year. If he's looking to exceed those deals... well, this year isn't helping his case, regardless of the reasons for it. Of course, at the same time, he's got a bit of a corner on the market, because unless something both interesting and financially possible shows up in free agency, the Blues would have to take a depressingly long look at their depth at C before saying him nay.
@miendiem Hmmm...that's a strong point about the team's depth at C. I suppose there are some variables there, however, which could present itself in the free agent market. Team might have to go after a cheaper option if they plan on keeping Steen and signing Halak/Elliott.
I also imagine the cap will rise, but I doubt the STL owners want to spend more considering the disappointing attendance. That fact alone might push Berglund out if push comes to shove.