It seemed likely that Jordan Schmaltz would work out a contract before training camp with the St. Louis Blues, since he was already in town participating in informal skates. That’s exactly what has happened, as the Blues announced a two-year contract with the young defenseman that will pay him $700K in the NHL. The deal is a two-way contract for the first year, and a one-way deal in 2019-20.
Schmaltz, 24, could have become a Group VI unrestricted free agent next summer had he agreed to a one-year deal and still not received much playing time in the NHL, but instead will stick with the organization who drafted him 25th overall in 2012. That organization has given Schmaltz just 22 regular season games in the three years since he left the University of North Dakota, despite substantial point totals at the minor league level. The right-handed defenseman has some tough competition in St. Louis as their top two pairings are dominated by Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko, but there is perhaps some hope for this season.
Despite bringing in several veteran forwards to fill out the group up front, the Blues did virtually nothing on the blue line and head into training camp with several players battling for few spots. Carl Gunnarsson and Jay Bouwmeester have seen their effectiveness wane in recent years, while Robert Bortuzzo failed to see his usage climb over 15 minutes a game for another year. While Vince Dunn has jumped over Schmaltz in the pecking order, there is still a real chance the latter could find himself as the extra defenseman on the roster or a full-time player if an injury occurs in camp.
That chance is only buoyed by the fact that Schmaltz is now waiver eligible, and would have to clear in order to be sent to the minor leagues. Though there is obviously no guarantee of a claim, teams around the league could very well jump at the chance to acquire a right-handed puck-mover on the wire. That does point to the Blues making a roster move at some point to clear some room on the NHL blue line, but there’s no clear indication who that would be. The team could also potentially take eight defensemen into the start of the season, though with players like Robby Fabbri, Patrick Maroon and Nikita Soshnikov that are all potential injury risks they made deem extra forwards more important.