The Blues will be keeping center Robert Thomas past the nine-game threshold. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the 19-year-old is slated to suit up on Friday against San Jose, marking his tenth game of the season. As a result, his entry-level contract will officially kick in.
Thomas was highly sought after in trade talks dating back to last season but St. Louis wanted to hold onto him. He hasn’t made a significant impact thus far as he primarily has played on the fourth line when he has been in the lineup but has still collected four assists through his first nine games despite averaging just 9:35 per night. He also has held his own at the faceoff dot, winning 47.7% of his draws.
Given that he’s ineligible to play in the AHL (which, from a development perspective, is arguably the most ideal scenario), St. Louis was forced to choose between keeping him up even though his role is rather limited or sending him back to Hamilton of the OHL where he doesn’t have a whole lot left to prove. Head coach Mike Yeo indicated that he’s pleased with Thomas’ progress thus far so he’ll get the opportunity to stick around for now.
As a result of this, the next threshold to watch for will be 40 games on the active roster, a number that includes time spent as a healthy scratch. If Thomas makes it to that one, he will accrue a season towards unrestricted free agency, meaning that he will be eligible to hit the open market at 26 instead of 27.