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Blues 1st travels with the Cup and RFA thoughts

July 6, 2019, 6:55 PM ET [112 Comments]
Jason Millen
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Welcome to the Blues summer of the Cup. Blues fans should enjoy watching the cup parade around the globe with its players because they likely aren’t going to get to watch much as far as player signings or trades. Before we get to the Cup, I wanted to make sure you all saw the result of one of the best year end season ticket holder events that the Blues do annually. I’ve had the privilege of helping ensure a few different kids get to do this the last few years.

Let’s move on to looking at some of the cup travels so far.

We had the Chief receiving The Honor Song, recognizing how his accomplishments have enhanced the 1st nation culture.

We had shots for Grandma (I knew we liked Parayko for a number of reasons):

The Keeper of the Cup, Philip Pritchard, shared this photo from Parayko as a kid.

Jay Bouwmeester took the cup to Canmore, AB, a place that I recommend visiting on your way from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise. Canmore is one of the small towns nested around and in the Canadian Rockies and is definitely worth a visit.

Brayden Schenn took the Cup to his Dad’s firehouse back in Saskatoon where his dad is the acting battalion chief. As someone who’s relatives have served as firemen, this will struck a chord with me.

Of course, there was no shortage of hospitals visits for the Cup as the Blues continue to give back to their communities.

Can I say yet again, as risk of sounding like a broken record: it’s so easy to see why some of us are so draw to hockey and the people who play the sport. Playing through injuries that would have players of most sports long out of the lineup, to celebrating the championship interactively with their fans, to taking the Cup to a kids hockey tournament and countless hospitals to stories of players bonding with fans like Air and Laila. Know that it extends to all levels as evidenced by things like http://www.adayfordion.com/ which raised more than 30k for a fallen brother’s family during the 1st tournament and https://www.dawgnationhockey.org/ just two groups I have some personal knowledge of and respect al ot.

Let’s move on to business for a second. The Blues had four players elect salary arbitration: Jordan Binnington, Joel Edmundson, Zach Sanford, and Oskar Sundqvist. The Blues will continue to negotiate with them right up until arbitration. Mitch Reinke, Ville Husso, Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev are not arbitration eligible.

I would be shocked if Sanford didn’t have a deal done before arbitration. I would expect Sundqvist would as well unless his ask is just unrealistic. I think Edmundson and Binnington will be a lot more complicated.

Edmundson took home $3 million last year but had a very inconsistent year, including a number of healthy scratches. A team can’t afford to pay its 6th/7th defenseman anywhere near $4 million a year. Patrick Nemeth may be a comparable that the Blues use and he just signed a 2 year, $3 million AAV deal with Detroit. Edmundson may look to Ryan Murray’s deal which had a $4.6 million AAV but Nikita Zadarov is likely a better comparison at $3.2 million. I expect the Blues think Edmundson should receive something right around his qualifying offer, say $3.35 million.

Binnington is a lot more curious because of the lack of comparable. Matt Murray is the closest with Murray signing a 3 year, $3.375 million AAV contract in 2017 after winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie. Complicating things is that Murray agreed to the deal when he was 3 years younger than Binnington. My guess would be a 3 year deal with a $4.25-$4.5 million AAV.

I expect Reinke will get signed without much trouble and that Husso will look for a short term deal. Reinke will shoot for being a staple in the lineup in two years and a real option for a Vince Dunn type injury next year. Reinke will have some real competition with the Blues bringing in Jake Dotchin and Derrick Pouliot, both who can step into a NHL role should the need arise.
Husso can’t be very happy about how things worked out over the past year given his struggle and his injury issues throughout the year, couple with Binnington taking the reins and guiding the team to its first Stanley Cup.

Fabbri and Barbashev are curious cases for various reasons but I expect both will get new deals without a ton of issues. I’m thinking Barbashev will come in around $1.3 million AAV (more than Robby Carpenter and a good raise from his $863 last year. Fabbri has little leverage in my humble opinion and may push for a short term deal to try and take advantage of next year, maybe also around $1.3 million.

Let’s assume Binnington, Edmundson, Fabbri, Sanford, Sundqvist and Barbashev take $14 million of cap space. You are only left with about $2.5 million for Pat Maroon as I believe you have to save $500,000 or more of cap space to start the year. I would be Maroon will get better offers. I just can’t see how Maroon fits on the upcoming Blues without a trade or at least walking aware form an RFA like Edmundson.

Will the Blues just let Blais, Sanford, Fabbri and Jordan Kyrou compete for the two remaining top nine spots and let someone like Jordan Nolan or Mackenzie MacEachern take the 14th forward spot or just roster 13 forwards to save the cap space?

In other notes, Marcus Johansen at only $4.5 million per season seems to be the bargain of UFA forwards, especially to the Sabres who may have to pay a “bad team penalty” like the Blues did with the Jay McKee contract years ago.

Would you rather have Artemi Panarin at age 27 through 34 at $11.643 million a year or Matt Duchene from age 28 to 35 at $8 million? I know I would rather have the cap room and the latter.

I still can’t believe Tyler Myers got 5 year and a $6 million AAV from the Canucks and Kevin Hayes got 7 years with a $7.14 million AAV while Sergei Bobrovsky got 7 years (until age 37) with a $10 million AAV. Kudos to their agents. Of course, Erik Karlsson at $11.5 million from age 35 to 37 may not age well either.

It’s a great day for hockey.

NHL Champions for Charity Playoff Edition
In what I hope becomes a Hockeybuzz tradition, Hockeybuzz Sharks blogger Steve Palumbo and I placed a wager on the series. If the Blues win, Steve has agreed to make a donation to the Gateway Area Multiple Sclerosis Society (@mssociety on twitter) whose mission is help each person affected by MS in St. Louis address the challenges of living with MS. They help by raising funds for cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education and providing programs and services that empower people with MS and their families to move their lives forward. If the Sharks win, I will donate to the Hydrocephalus Association (@HydroAssoc on twitter) whose mission is to connect individuals to larger communities that can provide support and understanding, to educate national and state policymakers, the medical community, and the general population, and to advance treatment and eventually find a cure for Hydrocephalus.

With the Blues win over San Jose, Hockeybuzz Sharks blogger Steve Palumbo will be making a donation to the Gateway Area Multiple Sclerosis Society (@mssociety on twitter) whose mission is help each person affected by MS in St. Louis address the challenges of living with MS. They help by raising funds for cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education and providing programs and services that empower people with MS and their families to move their lives forward.

I hope that our wagers will inspire players and fans to pledge donations for each win their team makes in the NHL playoffs.

NHL Champions for Charity Regular Season
Given that the Predators pulled out the division title, all be it not without some controversial officiating in the last couple of games, Best Buddies Tennessee https://www.bestbuddies.org/tennessee/ is the beneficiary. Best Buddies Tennessee is dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a side note, I recently got to experience a Best Buddies even in the St. Louis area that was led by the Eureka high school football team. It was a lot of fun and brought a lot of joy to those involved.
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