The St. Louis Blues have inked top line forward Alex Steen to a 3-year deal worth $17.4 million. Steen is having a career year for the Blues – his 22 goals tie him for second in the NHL – he is two tallies shy of matching his career high of 24.
Steen will be 30-years-old when the new contract activates. Considering the expected rise of the salary cap and Steen’s Selke-like qualities, at $5.8 mil per season (cap hit), this is a great deal for the Blues.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 18, 2013
The former first round draft pick has become an essential part of the St. Louis Blues core that will challenge for a Stanley Cup title this season. The Blues franchise has never won an NHL championship since joining the league in 1967-68.
Steen has been considered a top defensive forward in the league for awhile now, however, his 36 points in 33 games this season make him even more of a force; he is one of the top two-way players in the game, and two-way players do very well in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some of the best defensive forwards who can score have been making Stanley Cup finals in recent seasons, and often winning: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in 2008, Jordan Staal in 2009, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp in 2010 and 2013, Patrice Bergeron in 2011, as well as, Ryan Kesler in 2011 (lost in the finals), and of course, Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar in 2012. Steen’s recent play is comparable to the names mentioned.
The Blues occupy second place in the Central Division. They will at some point be required to beat elite hockey clubs if they hope to win a Cup this year. How much success the Blues have this season and throughout the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs will have much to do with how well Steen performs. If he continues to play the way he has so far this season, the Blues will be a major player in the playoffs.