Patrik Berglund has signed a new five-year, $19.25 million deal which will keep him with the St. Louis Blues through the 2021-22 season. As expected, the new deal is a divisive one for Blues fans due to Berglund’s polarizing history with the team. Some liked the fact Berglund is locked in at a fairly reasonable annual rate. Others point to the fact that Berglund continually underwhelms and doesn’t have the track record to justify so many years on a new deal.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of Berglund’s new deal.
I’ve been told I’m too negative on the Blues, so let’s start with the positives.
At 28, Berglund is still fairly young and should have several good years left in the tank. He has probably reached his peak when it comes to offensive upside, but that peak can contain a reasonable amount of offense over the next five years.
The deal itself is a favorable one with an average cap hit of $3.85 million. That’s only a $150,000 increase over his current cap hit of $3.7 million. Berglund could have tried out free agency and would have likely picked up a deal worth more money.
Berglund is a skater who can find the back of the net. Now, he doesn’t do it as often as he should, but he has 17 goals in 60 games in 2016-17 which ranks second on the Blues.
The size vs. speed debate is one which will never end, but Berglund does have the size which can complement the Blues’ smaller, quicker players. He hasn’t always used his size as effectively as he could throughout his career, but the 2016-17 sample of play has been a lot better and would be valuable to have if he maintains it.
The Blues know exactly what they’re going to get from Berglund as a second or third-line center. That’s not something that can be said about a potential free agent they could have picked up had Berglund walked. There’s something to be said about familiarity.
Speaking of familiarity…
Berglund has been with the Blues for his entire career. He’s already up to 615 regular season games and now has a legitimate chance to claim the record for most regular season games by a player in Blues history. That record of 927 games owned by Bernie Federko is theoretically in reach if Berglund is able to stay healthy for the bulk of his new five-year contract. That’s crazy.
Berglund is a chronic underachiever. He scored 20+ goals twice in his first three seasons, but then hasn’t been able to mimic the feat. He likely would have during the lockout-shortened 2012-13, but the overall fact remains that he’s been unable to find the back of the net as often as he did earlier in his career.
Berglund has looked a lot better in 2016-17, but he is riding a bit of good luck. His shooting percentage of 15.5% this year is well above his career average (12.2%) and well above the standard NHL mark of 9%. Is he just performing well in a contract year? Is a significant drop in the cards?
Though 2016-17 has been positive for Bergie, it’s important to remember just how frustrating he can be as a player.
OK, OK – that’s just one hilarious example.
In all seriousness, Berglund has had long stretches (years even) of play that appeared to be well under his potential. It’s possible a lingering shoulder injury might have played a role in that, but it was infuriating regardless of cause.
Five years is a pretty long time for a player like Berglund who hasn’t consistently proven he can deliver. The price is hard to argue – especially when Jori Lehtera’s cap hit is $4.7 million – but the term is one that could sting should Berglund revert to his previous ways.