- After inking Colton Parayko to a five-year, $27.5MM contract earlier today, the Blues have about $3MM in cap space per CapFriendly. Despite that, don’t expect St. Louis to be too active the rest of the offseason. GM Doug Armstrong told reporters, including Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that they would like to keep as much wiggle room as possible under the salary cap. While that not only would give them more space to work with for in-season movement, it also will help them hedge against a flat salary cap moving forward, something Armstrong acknowledged that he expects to happen for the foreseeable future.
Arbitration is coming fast and furious later this week, with the hearings kicking off on Thursday with Colton Parayko and Tomas Tatar. Before that happens, teams and players need to exchange figures for the arbitrator to rule on. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is reporting that the St. Louis Blues have submitted a two-year offer for $7MM (total), while Parayko wants a one-year deal worth $4.85MM. Friedman also reports that the Detroit Red Wings have offered Tatar $4.1MM, while the forward has asked for $5.3MM.
Unlike baseball, the arbitrator does not need to decide with one side or the other and can find a “middle-ground” salary for the player. Both of these teams would have walk-away rights from a potential decision, though it would be hard to see either of them allowing Parayko or Tatar to hit the open market. As always, a deal before the hearing is still likely between both sides as cases rarely actually reach arbitration.
Parayko, 24, is known as a budding superstar around the league but doesn’t have the experience or huge point totals to give him much leverage in the process. That said, there is leeway for an “intangibles” component which can use things like leadership and public appeal to sway the decision. Parayko is extremely popular in St. Louis as the team and fans see him as a building block for any future contender.
Tatar, 26, on the other hand has a much longer track record of success in the NHL after completing his fourth full season, but cannot be awarded a two-year deal because of his proximity to unrestricted free agent. It seems likely that the two sides will either take the one-year deal and part ways next summer, or somehow find a long-term deal that works. It was recently reported that Tatar turned down a five-year, $25MM deal and it’s clear that he values himself much higher than that.
Here’s a look back at some of the original content from PHR last week.
- Holger writes about how the Rangers may want to figure out how to pay Ryan McDonagh as he’s only a couple years away from free agency. Currently playing for the Rangers at a bargain, McDonagh may be off to another spot should the Blueshirts not have the cap room to pay him.
- What else could a back-to-back champion need in order to three-peat? Brian offers the Penguins scouts the Pens as to what they should be looking for to keep their dynasty running into a third consecutive season.
- Zach wonders if the San Jose Sharks need to make another move to bolster a roster now missing mainstay Patrick Marleau.
- Seth profiled Jaromir Jagr to see what a team would be getting with the 45-year-old who still appears to have a little bit left in the tank.
- Mike showed how many players are still being compensated by their former team who paid them to go away.
- In addition to hosting his weekly chat, Gavin asked our readers which available free agent was the best choice for teams seeking help.
- Finally, I looked to see if both the qualitative and quantitative data really show that the Chicago Blackhawks’ window is closing. Though some of the numbers are harsh, I think that things are not as grim as many want to believe.
When you think about the St. Louis Blues team, youth isn’t necessarily the first word that comes up. While the team is hardly old, the Blues roster is full of veteran players like Paul Statstny, Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and Patrik Berglund. They also have a group of players entering their prime now, names such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and the recently acquired Brayden Schenn, who they traded their first-round pick for.
The point is that no one thinks of the Blues as a young team, yet Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that surprisingly, St. Louis may have as many as nine or even 10 players who are 24 years old or younger on next year’s roster next. Somehow, it seems that the Blues are developing a lot of young players despite their veteran success in the NHL. Rutherford suggests that Robby Fabbri, Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev, Zachary Sanford and Dmitrij Jaskin all could find themselves in the Blues forward rotation plans in various ways, while youngsters Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, Jordan Schmaltz and Petteri Lindbohm all have a chance to crack the lineup on defense. And that doesn’t include 2017 first-round pick Klim Kostin, who just recently signed his entry-level contract.
Fabbri, a 2014 first-round pick, has already established himself as a quality prospect. He opened his rookie year two years ago with an 18-goal season. While the 21-year-old is coming off a torn ACL injury he sustained in February, he still put up 11 goals in 51 games last year and could be a top candidate to take over at center next year while Bergeron sits out due to shoulder surgery until December. Jaskin has been with the Blues for a while now. The 2011 second-rounder has been in and out of the lineup for four seasons now. The 24-year-old wing played in 51 games last year and finished with 11 points. He must make the next step if he wants to hold off other youngsters coming up. Barbashev could be one of those players. He was drafted in the second round after Fabbri, got into 30 games for the Blues a year ago and showed promise, producing five goals and 12 points and at 21, may be ready for an increased role.
The team has also been very prudent, trading the occasional veteran for prospects.Several of their young players came over via trade. Sundqvist, traded to St. Louis from Pittsburgh a few weeks ago in the Ryan Reaves trade, hopes to carve out a regular role with the Blues. He’s only played in 28 NHL games, but had a hard time breaking into the lineup. He did score 20 goals with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL last year. Sanford, a second-rounder from 2013, was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal, and could work his way onto the roster. Sanford played 39 games in his rookie season after coming to the NHL from Boston College. He put up just eight points, but did get into four playoff games for the Blues.
On defense, the 24-year-old Edmundson has already established himself as a solid defensive presence after two solid seasons in a row. The former 2011 second-rounder played 67 games in 2015-16 and put up three goals and 12 assists in 69 games this past season. Parayko, 24, also has put together two solid seasons on defense as the third-rounder of 2012 put up four goals and 31 assists last year. Both have worked their way through the system and have paid off. Schmaltz, 23, is right on their heels. The former 2012 first-rounder got into nine games this year and could surprise some people and make the team. Lindbohm, 23, has made appearances in three straight seasons as a depth defenseman.
As the list of the players who have filed for arbitration was released earlier today by the NHLPA, a few names stick out as those due a meaningful raise. Arbitration is a tricky process to reliably predict, but it’s a safe bet these names will see their cap hit rise substantially.
Brian Dumoulin – D – Pittsburgh Penguins
There was a time when the young Dumoulin was a well-kept secret in the league, overshadowed by the far flashier play of Kris Letang. Dumoulin’s accolades this last playoff year certainly didn’t go unnoticed, and as the lone defensive defenseman in their core group, he probably holds the greatest job security on the team’s blueline. He doesn’t put up points – only one goal in the last two seasons, but he blocks shots and drives possession while eating a ton of minutes against top competition. As analytics are utilized more and more, his case only gets stronger. A contract well over $4 MM is certainly looking possible.
Colton Parayko – D – St. Louis Blues
This is the name seen most commonly associated with offer-sheets this summer, and with good reason. Parayko plays with the mentality of an old-time defenseman, but he can skate quite well for a large (6’6) man. He’s only had two seasons in the NHL, but he’s impressed since he first took the ice. Again, he isn’t a massive offensive force (he scored 3 goals last season), but he’s already averaging over 21 minutes a night with near equal starts in both the offensive and defensive zone. He’ll be hurt by the quantifiable stats factor, but he’s a big body with a rare right-handed shot to boot. This contract could look relatively cheap compared to his next, if he continues along this course. He should cost around $5.5 MM.
Ondrej Palat – F – Tampa Bay Lightning
Others will look to the undersized center Tyler Johnson as most likely to get a payday. But don’t over look Palat’s consistency – it may give him an edge with arbiters. Johnson does have his 72 point campaign to lean on, but that was now two full seasons ago. The fact that both players couldn’t break 20 goals in the last two seasons will bring their prices back down to Earth. Palat has grown into his role on the team and back-checks with a ferocity not often seen in younger stars. Johnson is no slouch either – they’ve both accumulated Selke votes over the years. These are two pivotal pieces of the Lightning, and their upcoming contracts were a big reason Jonathan Drouin was traded away to Montreal. GM Steve Yzerman will happily lock both up, but he will be hoping for figures under the $6 MM mark.
Viktor Arvidsson – F – Nashville Predators
This would have been an unlikely name on such a list even last December, when you consider how truly meteoric Arvidsson’s rise was. His value in arbitration will be deeply interesting – the shifty winger has played himself into the core of the team within a season. He really only has 2016-17 and the long playoff run to hang his hat on, as he scored only 16 points through 56 games in 2015-16. This year was a remarkable offensive explosion, with 30 goals and 31 assists. At only 5’9, Arvidsson has really shocked many onlookers by how easily he’s adapted to the physicality of the NHL game. His talent has never been in question, and with his production now well-established, it’s safe to believe he’s going to get a cushy award. How bad the damage will be is going to affect Nashville’s cap going forward – I suspect over $5 MM, but there are few comparables.
Mikael Granlund – F – Minnesota Wild
Granlund is perhaps slightly more enticing league wide than fellow Wild RFA Nino Niederreiter. He’s a marginally more cerebral player, and he plays the valuable center position. Neiderreiter is the more natural goal-scorer and larger frame, but Granlund has better PPG and has broken 30 assists thrice. Both players will get paid, as they both broke 25 goals last season and will be important pieces in the State of Hockey for some time. I think the more interesting thing to watch here is whether the Wild play it safe with Granlund and take a one year deal, or attempt to lock him up for longer. This was the first season he really scored with any consistency, but the Wild have shown their faith in the player by continually giving him over 17 minutes of icetime even when he struggled to produce. A one-year would easily command over $5 MM, whereas a longer deal could bring cost down.
After being released from his KHL team due to financial issues, Klim Kostin has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues, allowing him to come over to North America for next season to play in either the NHL or AHL. The 31st-overall pick has already made quite the impression at Blues development camp, after being relatively unseen in his draft year.
The Blues acquired the pick by trading Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Kostin has huge boom-or-bust potential. The Russian winger played in just a handful of games after losing most of his season to injury, but was still ranked as the top international skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting. His profile, as a do-it-all power winger that can skate, shoot and hit is one scouts drool over but still has to overcome some consistency issues (like most draft talents).
Kostin was selected first-overall in last year’s CHL import draft, but he’s already said he won’t play for Kootenay and signing his ELC makes that even more clear. The Blues want him to get into the system right away, as his offensive game is developed enough to jump right to the AHL level. There’s no guarantee he ever makes the NHL, but if initial reports out of camp are to be believed, he’s got his eye on the top league already and the talent to get there.
The drama that is Dynamo Moscow continued today, with the team releasing most of their players due to unpaid wages going back almost a year. The new owners would not honor those debts, and instead have given freedom to the vast majority of their players. One of those players is Klim Kostin, the 31st overall pick at the draft and St. Louis Blues prospect.
Kostin is now free to sign an entry-level deal with the Blues, and already attended their development camp last week. At camp, Kostin turned many heads and has an outside shot of even playing in the NHL this season. More likely, he’ll head to the AHL next season after expressing that he will not suit up for Kootenay of the CHL. Interestingly, St. Louis doesn’t have a primary AHL affiliate this season, meaning Kostin would either go to the Chicago Wolves (Vegas Golden Knights) or somewhere else around the league.
The Minnesota Wild have locked up 26 year-old defenseman Zach Palmquist to a one-year, two way contract, per Renaud Lavoie. The NHL value of the contract is $725,000. Palmquist has not yet played an NHL game, but played in 72 games for the AHL affiliate Iowa Wild last season. Palmquist is a low-scoring two-way defender, but at barely 6 foot tall, relies more on his skating and stick-checking to find success. He has a decent, accurate pass but cannot be relied upon for consistent offensive production. Still, he was trapped in a gigantic logjam with the glut of defensemen in the Minnesota system. Perhaps he finally gets his cup of tea as a bottom-pairing defender in 2017-18.
- Mark Lazarus of the Chicago Sun-Times contemplates the effect the Chicago overhaul will have on on-ice performance next season. He’s quick to point out that the 2016-17 Blackhawks had the second-best record in franchise history, which is quite storied. That said, it seems unlikely that the Hawks will be able to replicate that regular season success with such incredible turnover. Lazarus may be a little premature in his worry about post-season contention or management firings, but GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville will undoubtedly start feeling heat if the season starts off on a sour note. Losing Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson in particular have drawn ire from the fanbase, and it will be interesting to see how much faith ownership maintains if Chicago struggles early in the incredibly deep Central division. Although many of the moves were made out of salary cap necessity, the expectation is to win.
- The Flyers never do seem to fully alleviate their goaltending troubles. Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer is quick to point out that free-agent acquisition Brian Elliott is not the answer to all their woes in between the pipes. He points out with particular concern the unlikelihood of Michal Neuvirth playing a full 40+ game split, which he hasn’t done outside of one season. Ford also attacks the tandem goaltending model, stating that it rarely finds success – though that is certainly a matter of debate. Elliott himself had his best season of his career for the 2011-12 Blues in a tandem with Jaroslav Halak. Ultimately, the franchise seems to be pinning its long-term hopes on either Carter Hart,18 or Felix Sandstrom, 20 – but neither is a sure thing. GM Ron Hextall is still not sold on Anthony Stolarz (even after protecting him in the expansion draft) and will watch his progress closely next season with the AHL Phantoms in Lehigh Valley.
As noted earlier today and now confirmed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Boston Bruins have signed left winger Kenny Agostino to a one-year, one-way contract worth $875K. The former Yale standout will return to New England in hopes of finally getting a long NHL look. The Bruins have been fairly quiet on the first day of free agency, signing only Agostino, Paul Postma, and re-signing Jordan Szwarz. However, of the three signings, Agostino by far has the highest potential to impact the 2017-18 team.
In 2016-17, Agostino was awarded the AHL’s MVP award after registering 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points in just 65 games with the Chicago Wolves, the former affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Agostino led the league in scoring by 15 points and was the top assist man by 11. He also played to a +24 and was a point-per-game player in the postseason as well. In the NHL, Agostino also contributed a goal and two assists in seven games. While Agostino has never had any sustained success at the highest level, the 25-year-old has the tools to succeed if given the chance.
In Boston, Agostino should at least be given some opportunity. Many felt that the Bruins needed a top-six left winger, but GM Don Sweeney has indicated that he did not want to block the development of their younger players like Jake DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik, and Anders Bjork. Between Matt Beleskey, Frank Vatrano, and now Agostino, the Bruins have multiple player they can try out on the third and fourth line before dipping into the minors. If it doesn’t work out with Agostino, the Bruins also stand a good chance of passing the 25-year-old through waivers if need be. It is a very low-risk, high-upside signing for Sweeney and company.
The St. Louis Blues have signed a number of free agents, inking Beau Bennett to a one-year $650K contract, Chris Thorburn to a two-year, $1.8MM deal and restricted free agent Oskar Sundqvist to a one-year, $650K contract.
Bennett wasn’t issued a qualifying offer from the New Jersey Devils this week, making him a free agent at just 25 years old. The 20th-overall selection in 2010, Bennett has performed admirably as a bottom-six player and has some offensive upside to his game. He’ll fit in nicely as a big body to replace some of the outgoing size of Ryan Reaves for the Blues.
Thorburn, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights from the Winnipeg Jets at the expansion draft, is more of a 13th forward at this point in his career but locked up a two-year deal regardless. The 34-year old is willing to drop the gloves for a teammate, and has logged 750 games in his career as a fourth-line energy player.
Sundqvist was part of the deal that saw Reaves head to Pittsburgh, and will see if he can break through into the NHL in St. Louis. In 28 games so far in his career he has just four points, but found his scoring touch in the minor leagues. With 20 goals and 46 points, many believe he could develop into a legitimate power winger in the NHL one day, at least able to contribute double-digit goals.
It will be interesting to see where he plays this year, as the Blues are operating without a primary AHL affiliate. They will supply players to the Chicago Wolves who are now affiliated with Vegas, but also send certain players throughout the minor leagues. If Sundqvist is playing in Chicago, he’ll be under the tutelage of the Golden Knights’ coaching staff.