The St. Louis Blues have done a miraculous job of both adding talent – bringing in Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Tyler Bozak, and Patrick Maroon to name a few – and retaining their own restricted free agent assets this off-season. The team has already signed Joel Edmundson, Dmitrij Jaskin, Robby Fabbri, and Oskar Sundqvist to reasonable extensions and had just two RFA’s left to sign. However, one of those players has decided to go elsewhere to continue his hockey career. Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm will not re-up in St. Louis, but instead sign with Lausanne of the Swiss NLA. The team announced the transaction today, making the one-year contract official. The Blues will retain Lindbohm’s NHL rights.
Lindbohm, 24, will likely be missed by some in the Blues organization but not by others. Although the 2012 sixth-round pick out of Helsinki, Finland showed promise, he never could quite put it all together. Both injuries and inconsistency impacted the development of a player some saw as a future top-four defenseman. When healthy, Lindbohm showed a well-rounded two-way game at the AHL level, but never stayed at the minor league level long enough to impress for a whole season. In the NHL, Lindbohm simply struggled to produce when given an opportunity and too often found himself on the wrong side of goals. This past season, Lindbohm did not make an appearance with the Blues for the first time since coming over to North America in 2014, yet he also suited up for only 23 games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and posted only three points. He was ruled out for the remainder of the season in early January with a shoulder injury.
The Blues may have been willing to offer Lindbohm a minimum salary two-way deal, or maybe just an AHL contract with the San Antonio Rampage, just to see if Lindbohm could ever string together a whole season of healthy, high-end play, but it seems unlikely that they would have matched the salary and certainly not the type of role that Lindbohm will get with Lausanne. The Swiss club struggled in 2017-18, having to fight off relegation, and will likely throw Lindbohm into a top pair position right away in hopes that his talent can help to jump start the new campaign, especially with the risk that he could be struck by injury at any time. Playing alongside other NHL transplants like Dustin Jeffrey and Joel Vermin, Lindbohm will look not only to improve his own stock, but also prove that he can lead a team to the postseason.
With Lindbohm departing, St. Louis has just defenseman Jordan Schmaltz to sign before they their restricted free agents are all tied up. The Blues are bankrupt for cap space, looking at just a $285K margin right now per CapFriendly, but the team won’t carry 15 forwards as projected and the demotion of a Jordan Nolan or Chris Thorburn should be enough to fit Schmaltz in under the cap for the coming season.