It’s been almost two weeks since Alex Pietrangelo signed a 7-year, $8.8 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. The dust has begun to settle and St. Louis Blues fans have started to think forward. Everyone already seems to have their mind made up on who the 23rd captain of the Blues will be, but let’s consider a few options.
Ryan O’Reilly for Captain?
The most obvious choice is the 2019 Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly. He led the team in assists and points last season and in 2018-19. He has certainly been the epitome of the Blues most valuable player since he got to town. While he was only an official alternate captain when Tarasenko was injured, he was always providing teammates with a good example of the player they should strive to be on the ice. He loves St. Louis and he loves the Blues. He is an 11-year NHL vet with three more seasons on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He would make an excellent captain, there is no denying that.
What is up for speculation however is whether or not his potential leadership role would take away from his production on the ice. The Blues can’t afford for that to happen truthfully, especially with Vladimir Tarasenko out for at least the start of the season.
Hey, What About This?
This has happened before. Look at Alex Ovechkin. He took over as captain of the Washington Capitals in January 2010. That season, Ovechkin had 109 points in 72 games. He hasn’t scored more than 89 points since then. Ovechkin is still more than a point a game player. He is still known as one of the best scorers in the league so ultimately, it didn’t change a lot, but it is still something to note that might happen if O’Reilly becomes captain.
But on the other hand, look at Connor McDavid. He had 48 points in 45 games his rookie season before he was named captain of the Edmonton Oilers. His point production per game went up after he was named captain. Last season, he had 97 points in 64 games, averaging just over 1.5 points per game. His leadership clearly did not affect his offence.
Alexander Steen for Captain?
Before Pietrangelo was named captain, Alexander Steen’s name was also thrown in the mix as another potential option for captain.
When Pietrangelo hoisted the Stanley Cup, the first person he passed it to was defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeeester underwent an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator procedure after he had a cardiac episode during a game in February. He said then that he wouldn’t play the rest of the season, but has not made a decision for the upcoming season. It does not seem likely that he will play, though. So, who did Bouwmeester pass the Cup to? That’s right, Steen.
Steen has been an alternate captain of the Blues since the 2010-11 season. The Blues got him in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs in November 2008. He is a 15-year NHL veteran. The 36-year-old has one more season left on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He is expected to miss the beginning of it with an injury. It seems unlikely that the Blues would make any player captain that they are only guaranteed to have for one more season. However, Steen does have the most experience of any of the options listed here.
Vladimir Tarasneko for Captain?
Tarasenko has been an alternate captain since the 2016-17 season. Before the Blues traded for O’Reilly, Tarasenko was the highest-scoring player on the team. He remains one of the main faces of the franchise. The eight-year NHL vet has three more seasons on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Tarasenko is expected to miss the start of the season also, which could keep him from becoming captain. It would be strange for the freshly-named captain to not be on the ice with the team at the start of the season. Also, like O’Reilly, the Blues cannot afford for his offensive production to be limited by taking on the added responsibility. Ultimately, if there was a captain vacancy before Tarasenko’s first shoulder surgery, he would have had more of a chance to become the captain, but he has to put himself and his recovery first now. But still, he’s been a leader in the locker room and on the ice for years and he would make a great captain.
Jaden Schwartz for Captain?
Jaden Schwartz has been an alternate captain of the Blues since the 2017-18 season. He has consistently been one of the Blues with the most amount of points in the regular season for the majority of his career. He is a nine-year NHL veteran.
Like Steen, Schwartz only has one year left on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Schwartz is only 28 years old whereas Steen is 36. Steen could be in the last season of his NHL career. Schwartz, on the other hand, has plenty of good seasons ahead of him. The Blues could re-sign Schwartz depending on how much the salary cap goes up, how much money he wants, and how well he plays next season.
The Blues have no shortage of options for captain. They have many experienced players who have led and can continue to lead the team on and off the ice. Any one of these options would be good for the team this upcoming season, but the Blues now have to look at the bigger picture of who they want their leadership group to be for the next several years.