The St. Louis Blues have agreed to terms with Zach Sanford on a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration with the young restricted free agent. The deal will carry a salary of $2MM. Sanford was one of 17 players who elected salary arbitration earlier this week.
With a $2MM Sanford in tow, the Blues now have just about $1.5MM in cap space with Robert Thomas still to sign. That number can be finessed a bit by dropping the number of players on the roster, but realistically will need a Vladimir Tarasenko trade if the Blues want to sign Thomas to a long-term deal. Otherwise, they could go short-term with him as well, just as they have with Sanford and Jordan Kyrou, who recently inked a two-year deal.
This contract for Sanford is interesting though, because it will walk the 26-year-old forward right to unrestricted free agency next summer. The 6’4″ forward is coming off a disappointing season which ended with just 16 points in 52 games. That’s a big step backward from his 2019-20 campaign that included 16 goals and 30 points in 58 games.
With that in mind, this is kind of a “prove it” deal for Sanford, to establish himself as a valuable secondary scoring threat or simply a bottom-six depth player. If he can do more than just contribute at the defensive end of the rink, he’ll could be one of the most sought-after free agents next summer. If those scoring totals don’t come up though, there’s no guarantee he even gets more than the $2MM St. Louis is comitting to him this time around.