St. Louis’ offseason to this point has been pretty busy in taking care of the host of restricted free agents they’re due to have this summer. They’ve already locked up Chris Porter, Nikita Nikitin, and T.J. Hensick to deals and today they’ve retained yet another important young forward in Vladimir Sobotka.
The Blues signed Sobotka to a three year contract today, a deal that Andy Strickland reports to be worth $3.9 million, good for a cap hit of $1.3 million over the length of the deal.
Sobotka, acquired from the Boston Bruins last summer for prospect defenseman David Warsofsky, had a career best in goals and points for St. Louis last season finishing the year with seven goals and 29 points in all. Playing as a third and fourth line player for the Blues he saw his minutes increase (averaging 16:11 time on ice) as well as his scoring chances. He’s a solid two-way centerman and still young at age 24 and with the opportunity to see the ice time that he has as a Blue he’s showing more what he’s capable of.
The Blues are already loaded up with younger centers and Sobotka helps give them more depth there. With the injuries to T.J. Oshie last season, Sobotka was able to get more ice time and helped show that he’s worth it to St. Louis. At his age, the Blues are hoping that his offensive breakout in 2010-2011 is the start of better times ahead for the young Czech. With the Blues having to compete with Chicago, Detroit, and Nashville in the Central Division, they’ll need all the help and improvement they can get.
Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.
Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.
Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.
This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.
During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.
“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.
“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”
The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.
Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.