The St. Louis Blues have settled on a new contract with forward Alexey Toropchenko before his arbitration hearing next Thursday, the team announced this morning. His new deal will keep him in St. Louis for two more seasons and carry a cap hit of $1.25MM, earning him $2.5MM in total.
Toropchenko was St. Louis’ last unsigned restricted free agent. It’s a good thing they don’t have more off-season business to handle, as CapFriendly listed the Blues with just $810K in projected cap space before Toropchenko signed.
However, that figure assumes a roster of 14 forwards and eight defensemen, one player over the 23-person roster limit. They’ll get cap-compliant by assigning someone to the minors or trading one of their multiple defenders rumored to be on the trade block.
For Toropchenko, this is a nice pay bump after the 24-year-old winger made the league-minimum salary on a two-way deal last season. Drafted 113th overall in 2017, Toropchenko set career highs across the board in 2022-23, recording ten goals, nine assists, 19 points, and a +6 rating in 69 games played.
Head coach Craig Berube primarily utilized Toropchenko in a fourth-line role last year, and he’s likely to do so again. The Blues bolstered their forward corps over the last few months of 2022-23 with the additions of Kasperi Kapanen and Jakub Vrana, and they also acquired Kevin Hayes from the Philadelphia Flyers via trade last month, mainly filling up their top nine.
Toropchenko did post strong defensive metrics in that limited role, and he uses his 6-foot-3 frame to his advantage when forechecking. While it’s unlikely he’ll ever reach a top-six role, there’s a lot to like about his game in his limited role.
He’ll be a restricted free agent once again when his new contract expires in 2025, although he’ll be just one year away from unrestricted free agency.