The St. Louis Blues have agreed to terms on two-year contract extensions with both Ville Husso and Niko Mikkola. The contracts are one-way, and will carry average annual values of $750K and $787.5K respectively. Both players were scheduled for restricted free agency, though Husso likely would have been eligible for Group VI unrestricted free agency given he has still not made his NHL debut.
Though it simply may be a reward for his hard work at the AHL level, a deal like this for Husso also has expansion draft implications. The Blues previously had just one goaltender signed for the 2021-22 season, prospect Joel Hofer, and he is ineligible for the draft. Given that at least one goaltender needs to be exposed, Husso’s deal makes a lot of sense. Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen both become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2021, and if the former is re-signed the Blues would want to protect him from the draft.
For Mikkola, it’s a little different story. The 23-year old made his NHL debut this season after being originally selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, and looks to be at least a capable injured replacement for the Blues. If the 6’4″ defenseman can continue on his solid development path he could even become a regular for a team that is going to need inexpensive options.
The Blues have committed $12MM to Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk next season (and beyond) but are also going to be tasked with re-signing captain Alex Pietrangelo. That deal could push close to, or even past, $10MM per season, meaning the bottom end of the roster will have to be as cheap as possible. That is of course if they do get a deal done with Pietrangelo, but having some depth options is never a bad thing.
Both players’ cap hits will not be counted against the Blues if they are in the minor leagues.