Jaden Schwartz

After Sobotka mess, Blues ‘comfortable’ Schwartz will get signed


Given how pear-shaped things went with Vladimir Sobotka, you couldn’t blame St. Louis fans for worrying about the status of the club’s other key unsigned RFA, forward Jaden Schwartz.

On Wednesday, GM Doug Armstrong tried to alleviate potential concerns.

“We’re in the initial process,” Armstrong said, via a live chat through the Post-Dispatch. “I had a conversation with Jaden’s agent yesterday and we’re working towards getting him signed.

“This could take some time but we’re comfortable that he will be at training camp.”

Schwartz, 22, is coming off a breakout campaign with St. Louis, finishing third on the team with a career-high 25 goals while averaging 17:32 TOI per game. The former first-round pick racked up 56 points and established himself as a valuable penalty killer, leading the team with three shorthanded markers.

He’s obviously an important part of the Blues’ future but, as history shows, St. Louis tends to play hardball with certain RFAs. In May, Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch there was no urgency to get deals done for Sobotka, Schwartz or Patrick Berglund, alluding to last year’s lengthy negotiation with Alex Pietrangelo (which led to Petro missing the start of training camp).

Then, in a twist, Armstrong flipped the script by inking Berglund to a three-year, $11 million pact in late June.

And then came the Sobotka situation.

Last week, Sobotka shocked everyone by inking in the KHL after the Blues filed for club-elected salary arbitration. Armstrong immediately set about explaining St. Louis’ offers, explaining the Blues tabled a multi-year deal (three, four, or five years, “at [Sobotka’s] choice”) at “north of $3 million” per season. The 27-year-old restricted free agent was then offered a one-year deal at $2.7 million per, or a two-year deal at $3 million per.

“Those haven’t got it done to this point,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong proceeded to explain he was holding out hope Sobotka would return to the club, and said he still intended to be at the arbitration hearing on July 21.

To give an idea of how tight negotiations were on this, consider what Sobotka’s agent — ex-NHLer Petr Svoboda — had to say in the aftermath.

“[Blues general manager Doug Armstrong] started at $2.4 million (for one season) and he came up to $2.7 million, so he gave me his best number,” Svoboda told the Post-Dispatch. “We were at one year, $3 million.

“Basically it was over $300,000. There was no room for negotiation. It was one year at $2.7 (million) — take it.”

So yeah. Could be a long summer for Schwartz.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.