|On The Brink||Tweet|
|Written by Tim Lucarelli|
|Sunday, 15 May 2011 14:27|
At the start of the 2008-09 season, the number 25 overall selection of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Patrik Berglund, made the jump from the Swedish leagues straight to the NHL. He had just won a silver medal at the WJC before and did not fail to impress in his rookie year, scoring 21 goals and 47 points in 76 NHL games.
The following season however, Berglund would fall victim to the sophomore slump, scoring only 13 goals and 26 points in 71 games. Patrik spent the majority of that season paired with winger David Perron. While Berglund was drafted number 25 in his draft year, Perron was taken with the 26th choice the following year. Both players were deemed to be bright, budding stars for the Blues, so naturally they were given plenty of time to develop chemistry. Unfortunately for the Blues, these two never clicked. Perron’s production stayed about the same as the prior year, but Berglund’s dropped significantly.
In late November of that 2009-10 season, St. Louis acquired a former 24th overall selection who took a path to the NHL quite similar to Berglund. Alex Steen had worked his way up the Swedish leagues a bit further (Elitserien) than Berglund, but also performed well in the other Swedish leagues while also playing for Tre Kronor from the time he was 16 years old all the way until he joined the NHL. He also made the jump straight to the NHL and to do this day, neither Steen nor Berglund have played a single game in the American league.
Steen and Berglund wouldn’t skate together much that year, but in the following season Berglund would skate over 40% of his even-strength shifts with Steen. The chemistry between the two was obvious and the confidence of the 6’3”, 220 lb. Swede was returning. While Berglund finished his season with seven points in eight games, he carried the confidence over into the World Championship in Slovakia. Berglund’s eight goals and two assists in eight games have him tied for the tournament lead in goals and second in points. Patrik carries a plus-six rating in the tournament and has been one of the key reasons why Sweden is competing in the gold medal game.
Typically the bigger power forwards make their living in front of the net, but while Berglund can win battles in close and bury his chances, he also has a laser of a shot. He can often be found scoring from just inside the blue line, whether he chooses to fire the big slapper or surprise with a quick and powerful wrist shot. Thus far in his young career, Berglund has shown that he can score 20 goals at ease and 30 is not too far around the corner.
Over the summer St. Louis will have some decisions to make with nine forwards looking for contract extensions (two unrestricted and seven restricted, counting Hensick). The Blues also have no shortage of talent in the pipeline, so no matter how they decide to progress, the Blues organization should have quality, talented forwards on each of their top three lines.
While Berglund is a restricted free agent, he will almost certainly be re-signed. After the Blues acquired Chris Stewart, it was Steen, not Berglund, who lost the power play ice time, showing that the Blues’ management and coaching staff views Patrik Berglund as one of their core pieces of the future. Blues GM Doug Armstrong was recently quoted, saying “Patrik has been doing very well on the world stage, and you can see him taking charge. He is definitely one of the players we are counting on to help get our team to the next level.”
If Berglund ends up skating with some of the more senior players on the Blues, he will approach 30 goals and 65 points with the potential of even hitting 70 this coming season. However, if he ends up skating with some of the junior players who are just cracking the NHL lineup, we’ll likely have to wait another year before we see Berglund approach the 65-70 point range. Regardless, Berglund is entering his fourth year and should most certainly score 60 points, which would be an improvement on his most recent season, a career best. For fantasy owners who grow impatient, Berglund is a great investment that will pay dividends sooner rather than later.
|Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2011 15:11|