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The Fans Have Spoken

by Jeff Ponder

Anyone who thought that Alex Steen was not a fan-favorite this season wasn't paying close enough attention.

In the second annual Blues Fan Awards, Alex Steen stole the show. The Awards, which gives fans the option of voting on many different categories for the best player in each position and the greatest moment, saw Steen steal the Best Forward, Biggest Surprise and Team MVP from his teammates. His surprising 24 goals and 23 assists ranked him just fourth on the team in points, but when considering that the 26 year-old forward played mostly third-line minutes, it is easy to see why he stole the Blues Awards.

But within those numbers lies a problem; Steen is a restricted free-agent come July 1. With his top-six forward numbers, the Blues have to offer him a contract before Free-Agent Day otherwise other teams will most likely be throwing offer sheets his agent's way.

Steen is a piece of the puzzle that the Blues need in order to stay on track to improvement. His speed and scoring touch could add depth to a very thin offensive lineup. If Steen can pop in twenty goals a season playing on the third and fourth lines, the Blues will see that offensive surge that they have been hoping for since the lockout.

The fans know what they want; its up to management to listen and make the right move before it is too late.

Other award winners include: Erik Johnson (Best Defenseman), Mike Weaver (Unsung Hero), and T.J. Oshie (Most Popular Player). Also, Keith Tkachuk's Final Home Game was the year's greatest moment.

Thoughts to Ponder:

It was announced last week that Former Assistant Coach Rick Wamsley, who was assigned to coach the Peoria Rivermen when Davis Payne joined the Blues, had his vacant seat filled behind the bench. Former Blue Scott Mellanby will join the Blues again, but this time coaching rather than playing. Mellanby is remembered for his tough demeanor and crushing hits (anyone remember game one of the 2001 Western Quarter-finals when he knocked out defenseman Gary Suter for the series?). His attitude followed him off the rink, when he joined the Vancouver Canucks in May 2008. Shortly after his hiring, the Canucks went after Ryan Johnson on the free-agent market, then tried to sign up-and-comer David Backes to an offer sheet, which the Blues turned and matched. Don't think that Mellanby didn't have anything to do with those events. The man has been around and knows how to persuade people into doing what he thinks is right. Mellanby shows no fear off the rink, just as he did as a player, so this may help keep young players in line. I don't think we need to worry about Oshie getting arrested for disorderly conduct or Berglund showing up late for practice anymore... Don't be surprised to see the Blues take yet another goalie in the first round in this year's draft. Jack Campbell of the U.S. Developmental Team has been stellar between the pipes when needed. He is touted to go in the first round, and he has been talked as going as high as 14 (the Blues' pick). With Jake Allen still in the works and Ben Bishop slowly losing his job in Peoria, Campbell may be a smart pick for the organization that is lacking in goaltending depth. But with failures such as Reinhard Divis, Konstantin Barulin, Marek Schwarz and now maybe Bishop, the Blues may not be as willing to draft a goaltender in the first three rounds as they used to be.

Stay tuned in with Jeff Ponder's BluesNetMix blog by checking in every Tuesday at bluesnetmix.com.

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