The St. Louis Blues are already getting started with their off-season moves. The team has announced that minor league forward Tanner Kaspick has signed a new one-year, two-way contract extension. The deal includes a raise at the NHL level (by default) and AHL level, moving from his entry-level values of $739K and $70K in the minors to the increased league minimum of $750K and slight uptick to $80K in the AHL. Kaspick, 23, was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.
If Kaspick’s name is unfamiliar, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The forward has yet to make his mark on the NHL through three pro seasons. A 2016 fourth-round pick out of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings following their league championship, Kaspick went on to captain the team before joining St. Louis in 2018. He spent his first two seasons with the San Antonio Rampage before joining the Utica Comets this year when the Blues’ new AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, announced they would sit out the 2020-21 season. In 125 career AHL games, he has recorded 27 points, but only 20 games and five points came this year as Utica tried to balance a mass amount of prospects and remained focused on developing those of their own parent club, the Vancouver Canucks.
While St. Louis clearly sees Kaspick as valuable to the club, his ceiling appears to be as a fourth-line forward in the NHL. His final two seasons in the WHL included impressive scoring, but that has fallen off tremendously in the pros. Instead, Kaspick’s high-end hockey IQ and sizeable 6’1″, 205-lb. frame appear to be his greatest assets rather than his scoring skill and could lead to him to taking on a checking and penalty kill role at the next level. However, after a relatively inactive season, not to mention a deep St. Louis forward corps, he will likely stay in the AHL for at least one more season before having the opportunity to see any consistent NHL action.