Zach Sanford is a key contributor this season, as expected.-
As of today, March 5th, the St. Louis Blues sit at 13-8-2, good for 2nd place in the Honda West Division. The big story of the season is the incredible number of players sidelined by injury. Specifically, the team’s forward corps has been hit hard. But amidst the injuries, two forwards are stepping up their game and showing how valuable they are to the Blues.
Those players are Zach Sanford and Oskar Sundqvist.
Going into this past offseason, Sanford was penciled in to many fans’ and writers’ lines as the 2nd line left winger. They looked something like this:
Schwartz O’Reilly Perron
Sanford Thomas Schenn
Sanford had 30 points in 58 games played last year, including 16 goals. He really emerged as a productive player in an unconventional season. And the year before that, he has 8 goals in 60 games, so you can see how the progression is there for him as an offensive threat. He’s a big body, capable of being a net front presence. He’s showing he can redirect the puck on shots from the point. He can screen the goalie with his size, and he has a fairly quick shot. He may have lapses now and again – he is a minus 3 on the season. But he’s coming on strong and proving his value.
Sanford, if you’ll recall, was acquired in the Shattenkirk deal with the Capitals in 2017. Here we are 4 years later, and Sanford has emerged as a top 6 threat. It’s nice knowing that the Shatty deal wasn’t just a salary dump, after all.Embed from Getty Images
Oskar Sundqvist was also acquired in a trade. As many fans know, he was part of the Ryan Reaves draft day deal with the Penguins. His first year with the Blues yielded just 5 points in 42 games, but it was his sophomore season, 2018-19, that he broke out for 31 points, establishing himself as a middle 6 forward with scoring ability.
Sundqvist is a swiss army knife type player. He plays on the penalty kill, is good at even strength, has decent hands, and can even log power play minutes. He’s an incredibly valuable player, the kind that fill out championship rosters.
Oskar had a beautiful goal the other night against the Ducks. With his back to goalie John Gibson, he collected the puck in front of the net, spun to his left and slid the puck past the outstretched Gibson’s leg. That was a power play goal, no less.
Both Sanford and Sundqvist are a testament to Doug Armstrong’s ability to construct a roster. He acquired both in trades, but they also spent time in the AHL. So they kind of count as home-grown players as well. With so many players out with injuries, these guys are playing up in the lineup and helping the team win. It is absolutely wonderful to watch.