Grading the 2011-12 Blues
Today the “Grading the 2011-12 Blues” series continues with Jamie Langenbrunner, the seventh player to be rated from the season that was. Like Jason Arnott, we are covering Langenbrunner fairly early in this series due to the fact his future with the Blues remains a mystery. How well did Langenbrunner perform in his first year with the Blues? Did the leadership and experience he possesses offset a mostly quiet offensive season?
Previous Grading the Blues Articles
Prior to 2011-12
As with other St. Louis veterans we are only going to cover Langenbrunner’s most recent history as his career summary stretches back all the way to the 1994-95 season. In 2010-11, Langenbrunner spent time with the New Jersey Devils and the Dallas Stars before becoming a free agent during the summer following the 2010-11 season.
The Blues signed Langenbrunner to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in an effort to provide leadership and experience to a very young, inexperienced St. Louis roster. His signing came at the same time the Blues signed Arnott, a clear indicator that the club realized they needed leaders to guide their young forwards.
This section will look pretty similar to Jason Arnott’s. Both were brought in more for their intangible traits than for their statistical production. Langenbrunner’s offensive skills stayed constant all season long with few peaks and valleys. His totals in October (4 points), November (4 points), December (4 points), January (5 points) and February (4 points) give an indication to just how predictable Langenbrunner’s production has become.
For those that were expecting Langenbrunner to earn his salary by being a constant presence that assisted in guiding the younger players on the roster, you were likely happy with the results. For those expecting Langenbrunner to find his old offensive form, you were likely a bit disappointed.
Final numbers: 6 goals and 18 assists (24 points) with a +7.
Regular season grade: C+
Summarized: Here is where Langenbrunner’s review differs from Arnott’s. While both men were expected to provide more value through their leadership than through their scoring, Arnott (17 goals, 34 points) had more of an impact offensively than Langenbrunner. As a result, Langenbrunner’s “C+” falls short of Arnott’s “B-“.
On the ice, Langenbrunner still had some decent speed and the usual hockey sense we have grown accustomed to seeing. Unfortunately, his pure production slipped to the lowest mark since a shortened 2003-04 season.
Unfortunately for Langenbrunner, success in the playoffs rely on tangibles. Where Langenbrunner provided great value through the regular season for the young stars in St. Louis, his shortcomings offensively ultimately are tough to ignore.
He tallied one goal against the San Jose Sharks but that’s where the story of Langenbrunner’s offense in the playoffs comes to an end. No one will argue that Langenbrunner and Arnott added needed experience in the St. Louis lineup. Unfortunately, these two skaters couldn’t provide the offense that St. Louis desperately could have used at the end of the season.
Final numbers: 1 goal and zero assists (1 point) with a -1.
Playoff grade: C
Summarized: Think back to Langenbrunner’s play in the playoffs. Pick out his most impressive play. Struggling to remember one? You’re not alone. Langenbrunner’s play in the playoffs lacked any distinguishing features. It just “was”. As with Arnott, it’s easy to speculate that Langenbrunner’s age and the fatigue factor ultimately played a huge factor. The Blues need experience in the lineup that still can pack a bit more of a punch.
Langenbrunner’s future looks a bit more uncertain than Arnott’s. Where it’s clear that Arnott has played his last game with the Blues, Langenbrunner may ultimately stick around. If the Blues elect to retain Langenbrunner for another season it would have to be a cheap price. Langenbrunner’s offensive skills have clearly trailed off and the Blues will have to decide if his intangible qualities make up for the declining offensive numbers.