The St. Louis Blues have avoided arbitration with one of their restricted free agents, signing Oskar Sundqvist to a one-year contract worth $700K. Sundqvist had filed for arbitration yesterday, but won’t need to have a hearing now. Sundqvist will be eligible for Group VI unrestricted free agency at the end of the deal should he fail to play in 10 games this season.
Sundqvist, 24, has just nine points in his 70 career NHL games and hasn’t been able to secure a full-time role. It’s unclear where he would fit in best in an NHL lineup, as he’s been a good power forward in the minor leagues but doesn’t possess a ton of high-end skill. Sundqvist was part of the trade that send Pittsburgh Ryan Reaves, but wasn’t as important as the first round pick that came along with him. In fact, he played just 42 games for the Blues last season and wasn’t given much of an opportunity to play an offensive game.
He’ll likely play much of the same role for the Blues, coming in and out of the lineup when necessary in 2018-19. Still, with the added depth up front that the team has added there’s no clear path to playing time for Sundqvist. A deal just slightly over league minimum is a reasonable amount of risk for the Blues, and doesn’t guarantee anything for the young Swedish forward.
The team has also signed goaltender Jordan Binnington to a one-year, two-way contract. Binnington didn’t file for arbitration yesterday after spending another season in the minor leagues, but will be rewarded anyway with a quick deal. The 24-year old had an excellent season for the Providence Bruins, spending the year on loan given the Blues didn’t have a primary AHL affiliate of their own. With a .926 save percentage during the season, he showed once again that he could be a backup NHL option at some point. That won’t come in St. Louis anytime soon though with Chad Johnson’s addition and the continued presence of Jake Allen and Ville Husso, which may lead to him becoming a free agent next summer. Binnington will qualify for Group VI UFA status in 2019 if he fails to play in 30 games this season.