What should the Blues do with Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund? I recently touched on this topic when I outlined all of the restricted and unrestricted free agents the Blues have to address prior to the 2013-14 season, but I was curious what fans thought about the situation.
There's really no easy way to answer this question as there's a number of ways you could approach it. You could keep both players, you could keep one and let the other go, or you could allow both players to leave either through a trade or free agency.
As you might expect, opinions varied. Thanks to everyone that contributed their thoughts on the matter. If you want to be involved in the next Twitter discussion, give me a follow @FrozenNotes or add your thoughts in the comments below.
I'll also include my opinion here as well. I'd like to see the Blues retain Stewart and deal Berglund. While Stewart was disappointing in the playoffs and looked to be out of synch, it's impossible to ignore his contributions during the regular season. The same could be said for Berglund, but Stewart has the bigger upside when it comes to offensive production. Stewart has that potential to be a 30 or 40-goal scorer if he puts all the pieces together. Berglund doesn't.
On to the responses from fans.
@frozennotes Honestly? Qualify them both, look to trade them.— Grant Sales (@grantsales) May 17, 2013
@frozennotes - Move 'em..— Bob Hamilton (@HaminatorJr) May 17, 2013
@frozennotes Sign! Then trade Stewart if you can improve roster, keep Berglund! He will cost us like 3.2 m/y.— Erik Ekekrantz (@Zteke83) May 17, 2013
@frozennotes move Bergie, keep Stewart— Liz T (@strgto) May 18, 2013
@frozennotes I think its time to put together a package deal with both of them and a couple of other players....— Mad Dog (@Thunderfvck) May 18, 2013
@frozennotes re-sign both. Can't afford to lose a center. Unless the Blues sign Clarkson they can't upgrade Stewart with a FA signing.— Michael Mabary (@MikeMikeMabary) May 18, 2013
@frozennotes Keep Bergland IF you can get him at the right price. Stewart is up and down more than a Hooker when the Navy is in town.— gerilo (@gerilo10) May 18, 2013
Well...that's certainly one way to put it.
Next response has two parts.
@frozennotes I think changes have to be made to the dynamic of the forwards, but that's not where I'm doing it.— Justin Striebel (@jstriebel22) May 18, 2013
@frozennotes keep Berglund, he will find his game. Only keep Stewart if you can't fill his spot before camp.— Scott Busiek (@WhoLeTheDagsOut) May 18, 2013
On that note, thanks for all of the contributions. It sounds like most fans are at least open to the idea of moving at least one of the two players, but I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush. If you don't see your opinion reflected above, post it below.
Despite the fact that the inherent risk is to have a team largely unchanged from last year's, I'd qualify both and test the waters. For reasonable qualifying offers, both could fetch top 9 talent, though the pool of available players would be pretty slim after their postseason performances.
Berglund can be infuriating, as he often does look simply lost out on the ice, but he does come up with production both in front of the net and on odd-man breaks. I think he'll definitely be the cheaper option of the two, and losing both hurts significantly if Armstrong can't get anything for them. This being the case, it makes sense to at least qualify him, then see if there is another team's underperforming center available for a swap.
I agree with the sentiment in one of your comments, that Stewart is treated a bit unfairly. While it's undeniable that his production in the playoffs was about as valuable as Tarasenko's was in 1/6th the icetime, his ability to score is too valuable to overlook. He had some bad luck in the playoffs, and I feel that defenses keyed him a bit too. I'd qualify him too, and be more prone to keeping him than Berglund, though I'd definitely make some calls to other GMs and see who he'd fetch.
That being said, if Armstrong decides to buck up for a guy like Bozak or Roy, it'd make sense to let either or both of them walk to make up for the cap hit. And I'd be fine with that.
Looking forward to the goaltending piece (*cough* move halak *cough*)....keep up the good work.
As usual, my opinion should come with the general caveat that I don't mind keeping both, if the market for them doesn't bear what Armstrong thinks he ought to be able to get out of them. I do think that Berglund, and Backes, for that matter, would do much better if the Blues can manage to bring in a true #1 center for an offensive line.
Meanwhile, all the power-type forwards need to catch a good case of screen the goalie, Stewart included. That's part of outworking the other team that I think the Blues still don't do enough of.
Lastly, a general comment: I really won't be surprised, regardless of which forward(s) get(s) moved this offseason, provided they aren't named (in no particular order) Schwartz, Tarasenko, Sobotka, Cracknell, Porter, or Reaves.
@miendiem I think it also comes down to this idea: If you bring in offensive help, which player will benefit the most, Stewart or Berglund? For me it's Stewart. I think if he polishes his game up some more and is surrounded by talent that plays more to his style, Stewart can be a big weapon. For Berglund, I struggle picturing him being able to take his game much higher than it already is.
@David Rogers Here's the alternate take to that, which I somewhat agree with: The Blues are particularly deep at wing, and lack any real depth at center. So, replacing Berglund becomes much more difficult, since such a trade requires a center at least as good coming the other way, at least in theory. (Assuming, of course, that Armstrong doesn't go wheeling and dealing and make multiple trades.)
That's mostly why I suggested above that bringing in a true top line center might be the real cure. If, instead of the current setup, the Backes line slots in as a #3/shutdown style line against an opponent's best, and aren't relied on for big points, the new #1 line gets to match up against the opponent's #2, and the Berglund line slides down and gets to take on their #3s. Of course, that's not always going to happen in practice, but in theory it seems like a simple way to improve the offense (barring the difficulty of landing that #1 center somehow, but we've seen Armstrong work his magic enough at this point that I'm willing to at least believe in the possibility).
So, even if Berglund is near or at his ceiling, perhaps we can get improved numbers out of him simply by virtue of playing him against lesser quality opposition, relatively.
Meanwhile, it seems equally obvious that Stewart could be improved by the addition of the same piece, either for the same reasons as Berglund, or by playing him on that to-be-created top scoring line with a true #1 center. We'll also have to see if he's willing to keep putting in the work like he put in this past summer - clearly, it created results, and we have to hope that he sticks with whatever created them.
In the case of both of them, I think it's a matter of needing a consistent, high-level effort, as much as anything else. There's not nearly enough charging to the front of the net and blinding the goalie/whacking away at rebounds/getting tips and redirects from either of them. They both fall into that category i described in the previous post, being large bodies with capable hands and reflexes, and if they stay, it's something I'd like to see more out of both of them. (It feels like I said this last year... because I did.)
@miendiem I'm planning on writing something about the goaltending situation in the next couple of days.
@David Rogers I can't particularly disagree with that. At this point, I think a lot of it, even from my own thoughts, is more that Stewart has already been moved once, by Colorado, for similar reasons. But yes, he did have a strong regular season this year, generally. And I think that's a lot of why it can be argued that he would be the one moved to get the return of a center to fix the Blues depth chart at that position from the top.
The other argument to be made here is that Armstrong seems to have a knack for pulling off what appear, so far, to be unbalanced trades in the Blues favor. Maybe he keeps that up, and maybe he doesn't, but it seems more likely that he'll deal from depth on the wing, maybe not even at the level of Stewart scoring-wise, to make that next necessary move.
Meanwhile, I think the other unsaid possibility in all of this is that there could be significant movement of Blues goaltenders this off-season, and maybe one of these two goes to fill a hole created temporarily there.
@miendiem I also tend to feel Stewart is being treated a bit unfairly by most fans. He certainly had playoff games where he looked pretty absent or lackadaisical. However, he still generated 17 shots and was pretty unlucky to not find the back of the net on at least two that come to mind.
Playoff performance aside, I feel like a lot of fans are overlooking or forgetting about his effort during the regular season. His effort wasn't perfect, but he did lead the Blues in goals with 18. I think this is especially noteworthy considering how dreadful other players were offensively this season. The service wasn't always there, making his team-leading total more impressive. Overall, 36 points in 48 games isn't too shabby. If we use the silly idea of forecasting his performance over a full 82-game schedule you end up with a 60-point, 30-goal season. Would we able to find a better option, using those rough approximations, through free agency or a typical, fair trade? Probably not.
That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing the Blues deal him, but I would be expecting a much larger return from him than I would from Berglund.