39. Scott Stevens
Defenseman, 1990-91; 78 games, five goals, 44 assists, plus-23 rating, 150 PIM
Scott Stevens may only have spent one season with the Blues, but he certainly found a way to make a great impact over the brief period of time that he wore the Blue Note. As a 26-year-old restricted free agent, Stevens signed a four-year, $5.1 million-dollar offer sheet with the Blues in the summer of 1990, and the Washington Capitals, his first team, didn’t match the offer, thus making him a Blue and the highest-paid blueliner in the NHL.
Stevens responded by having an absolutely fantastic first season in St. Louis. collecting five goals and 44 assists. He helped the Blues to the Division Finals while collecting three assists and posting a plus-8 rating in 13 playoff games. He made the All-Star team and received votes for the Norris Trophy.
Unfortunately, in one of the most bizarre situations in the history of sports labor issues–one that surely would have been handled differently today–Stevens was forced to leave the Blues after just one season. After the Blues signed Brendan Shanahan, formerly of the New Jersey Devils, as a restricted free agent, they owed compensation to the Devils, and since they already owed their next five first-rounders to Washington as payment for Stevens, they were forced to provide alternative compensation. Arbitration judge Edward Houston awarded Stevens to New Jersey shortly before the ’91-’92 season.
Stevens could have spent the rest of his career in St. Louis and could have turned into the most elite lefty-shooting defenseman in franchise history–the player that Chris Pronger ended up becoming. Ultimately, though, Stevens won three Stanley Cups with New Jersey, while the Blues still ended up with two Hall of Fame defensemen–Pronger and Al MacInnis–during the same era, so it’s safe to say that everything worked out alright for both sides.