Like many teams this summer, cap space is at a premium for St. Louis this summer, leading to suggestions that they’ll try to move out a veteran player to free up some wiggle room. If they wind up doing so, it won’t be via the buyout route as GM Doug Armstrong told reporters including Matthew DeFranks of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he doesn’t see the Blues taking that approach with any of their players when the window opens up later this month.
As things stand, the Blues have around $7.5MM in cap room for next season, per CapFriendly, assuming that the Upper Limit only moves up by $1MM. With that money, they have a few forwards to sign and possibly a backup goalie if they feel they’re better off with Joel Hofer getting one more season of starter minutes in the minors before moving up to the NHL full-time. They have enough money to do those things but that won’t leave much left for roster improvements. While Armstrong indicated that he will be looking to be active this summer, he understands the team isn’t a player or two away from getting back in the playoffs.
“I think there’s a little bit of you see the team that got in on the last couple of days go to the finals, it’s like let’s get there really quick again. We want to make sure that we’re doing things that are long-term success. I don’t see us being, as I said, very active. We’re going to be active, but we’re going to be smart active, we’re not just one player away from being a favorite to win.”
Some wondered if defenseman Marco Scandella could be a buyout candidate this summer with one year left on his deal that carries a $3.275MM cap charge. He has struggled in recent seasons and dealt with injury woes in 2022-23 but he was able to return late in the year, making him buyout-eligible. Such a move would have freed up $2MM in cap savings for next season but added $1MM in dead money for 2024-25. Armstrong’s comments would appear to take that idea off the table although it wouldn’t be surprising to see the veteran shopped on the trade market in the coming weeks.
It has been quite a while since St. Louis went the route of a contract buyout as the team has done it only twice with the most recent coming back in 2009 when they opted to buy out the final season of Jay McKee’s contract. It doesn’t appear as if they’ll be ending that streak this summer.