St. Louis has a gameplan in dealing with restricted free agents, and it doesn’t sound like GM Doug Armstrong is going to deviate from it this summer.
“No,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch when asked if there was any urgency to sign RFAs Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund. “I wouldn’t expect the RFAs to get done — just based on history — until July and August, and as we saw last year with Alex [Pietrangelo] into September.”
Ah yes, the great Alex Pietrangelo summer saga of ’13, which gave us the following:
After missing the start of training camp, Pietrangelo agreed to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal on Sept. 13.
It’s doubtful any of St. Louis’ current RFAs will have as complex a negotiation as Pietrangelo, a 23-year-old Norris-caliber defenseman represented by Newport Sports’ Don Meehan, who’s client base included two of the highest-profile d-man holdouts in recent memory: Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty (who missed almost the entire 2011 preseason, including five exhibition games) and Montreal’s P.K. Subban (who missed the first four games of last season).
History also suggests St. Louis does occasionally get its RFAs signed quickly. Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk were extended in June of last year, and the Blues avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart by signing him to a new deal in mid-July.
That said, Armstrong still figures to have some lengthy negotiations this offseason.
Schwartz, 21, had a breakout campaign this year, scoring 56 points in 80 games and looks to be a tricky negotiation given he’s heading into his second NHL contract. Sobotka’s a versatile guy that fills numerous roles for the Blues up front, and is probably looking for a raise on his next deal (having made $1.3 million in each of the last three seasons.) Berglund, meanwhile, has never fully lived up to his pedigree (25th overall pick in 2006) and has seen his offensive numbers dip recently after scoring 21 goals as a rookie and a career-high 22 in 2010-11.
Add it all up, and it could be another long summer for RFAs in St. Louis.