With the departure of David Backes, St. Lous Blues’ old captain, the focus is mainly on finding a new captain, and there has been little talk of who will replace the alternate captains. While it is possible that nobody will, in all likelihood there will be a vacancy.
Most people agree that either Alexander Steen, if he intends to stay with the team past his current contract, or Alex Pietrangelo are the most likely candidates for the team’s new captain. There are other names, of course. Perhaps even someone we don’t even know yet, if some blockbuster trade fell into the team’s lap. However, as things stand today, those are the likeliest names to don the C.
Well, both of them are Alternate Captains, so their ascendancy would create a void at the lower levels. Who then should fill it? Let’s take a look.
Kyle Brodziak is a name not brought up much, but given the fact he will be around for at least the next two seasons, he should get some consideration. While he is an inexpensive player in terms of contract, he is quite valuable to the locker room.
Several Minnesota fans expressed their desire to see him do well during last season, clearly lamenting the fact that he was no longer on their team.
Brodziak isn’t going to score a bunch of goals or get a ton of assists. He’s a fourth line center. However, he’s good at his job and, at least last season, settled into his role very well with no word of complaint that he demanded more.
He was also an exceptional locker room guy, which isn’t something the analytic people want to hear, but it does bring value. Just because you can’t quantify it on a stat sheet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Brodziak still has enough talent to play further up the lineup in a pinch, but more importantly can show the younger guys how it’s done.
Last season, in a diminished role from his norm (he had over four minutes less than his career average for time on ice), he still managed to be a contributor. He and Scottie Upshall paired together to form a rather potent shorthanded duo. He also came up big in moments during the playoffs.
Brodziak isn’t a long-term solution, but alternates aren’t always long term guys. They’re the best for that role at the time. He fits that to a T.
He provides leadership, while not necessarily being captain material at this point, and is someone the younger players can learn from. He isn’t overly boisterous, so he wouldn’t get in trouble with the officials much either. He would be a good fit for the “A”.
Jay Bouwmeester/Patrik Berglund
Jay Bouwmeester is probably the more likely of the two because management seems to think he is still a top pairing defender. The reason why he might not be considered is that you generally want your captains spread out across the roster.
If you make Pietrangelo the captain or keep him as an alternate, it may not make as much sense to have both of your top defenders have a letter on her chest. He has been an alternate before though, with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers. Clearly they thought enough of his qualities for him to gain a position of leadership with them.
Patrik Berglund may not be a realistic option to most, but he’s been with the team the longest, along with Pietrangelo and Steen.
Berglund’s biggest problem is he can either be a dominant force or completely non-existent. That isn’t necessarily the kind of person you want as a leader of your team.
The case for him might be that some people actually thrive when thrust into a position like that. Some people shrink or never live up to it, but some rise to the occasion when they don’t really have another option.
In a perfect world, neither of these would be given the letter. They’d be allowed to focus on their games and whatever private leadership roles they have. However, it is completely within the realm of possibility that they could be.
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