The arbitrator has decided on a contract for St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, awarding him a $3.1MM salary. Edmundson had filed for $4.2MM while the Blues were looking for $2.3MM. St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong released a short statement:
We are glad to have Joel under contract for next season. He is an important part of our defensive unit and we are looking forward to another successful year.
A one-year award of this amount is not ideal for the Blues. Although the $3.1MM salary is a favorable result for the Blues based on the midpoint in the case, it nevertheless pushes them even closer to the salary cap ceiling with Ivan Barbashev still to sign. More importantly, it also will take Edmundson right to unrestricted free agency next summer. The 26-year old has become a key part of the St. Louis defense corps over the years, averaging 20 minutes a game for the past two seasons. Though obviously not a big point producer—Edmundson’s best season saw him record 17—he plays a big role on the penalty kill and is a versatile partner often lining up beside one of the Alex Pietrangelo or Colton Parayko and letting them take a few more risks.
The question now will be whether the team feels he’s valuable enough to re-sign to what will likely be an expensive free agent deal. Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn are also scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season, while Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Binnington will follow in 2021. That is a lot of dough to hand out in a short period of time if the team wants to bring the whole gang back, something that simply might not be possible.
The other thing to consider when it comes to Edmundson is Armstrong’s history with expiring contracts. Even while the Blues were fighting for playoff spots the GM moved on from key players like Kevin Shattenkirk and Paul Stastny in the past, using them instead to reload the organization with young talent instead of overpaying them to stay. Even with the success of the Stanley Cup victory one has to wonder if Armstrong will change his spots, or if a player like Edmundson will be a potential trade piece in six months.