A player the Toronto Maple Leafs traded (along with Carlo Colaiacovo) for Lee Stempniak will now be the highest paid forward on the St. Louis Blues.
OK, so hindsight is 20/20. No one saw this season coming from Steen. With 22 goals and 36 points in 33 games, he is a top 10 NHL scorer and likely to make Sweden’s Olympic team. At first glance his three-year, $17.4 million ($5.8 million against the cap) extension may seem like overpaying for an anomalous season. In fact, it’s the price of business in the NHL today – and the Blues could do a heck of a lot worse than a consistent 20-plus goal scorer whose surprise start will at least put his Selke skills in the limelight.
Before signing this deal, Steen was scheduled to become a UFA in July. Consider that his former team, those aforementioned Leafs, just shelled out seven years and $5.25 million of cap space for David Clarkson, another player with a recent uncharacteristic goal scoring explosion. The difference is Steen comes with more depth to his game and fits in perfectly with the Blues system. Had he gone to market, he could have made more on the back of a rising salary cap and certainly received a longer term.
This is why, even as Steen’s offensive totals float back to more reasonable levels, he’ll continue to be worth it. He has only two goals and five points in eight December games, but that’s only poor when compared to his wildly overreaching start. He logs 20 minutes of ice more often than not and is one of the best checkers in the game today. You can also count on him getting north of 20 goals every year and there’s comfort in knowing what you’re paying for.
Steen has to get right to work leading this forward unit, too. David Backes is often considered the catalyst to the Blues charge, but he was shaken up Monday in Ottawa and had to miss Tuesday’s home game against San Jose. There has been no update to his condition, though it doesn’t look like he’ll be back Friday either.
To those who still need proof Steen is worth his price tag, this will be an interesting time to watch.