Update: The St. Louis Blues made it official; Vlaidmir Sobotka will “fulfill his obligation” for the remainder of 2016-17. He’ll also stick around for a while, as the team also confirmed that he signed a three-year, $10.5 million extension that will begin in 2017-18.
The on-again, off-again relationship between Vladimir Sobotka at the St. Louis Blues appears to be back on.
Per the Post-Dispatch, Sobotka’s contract with KHL Avangard has been terminated and according to Victor Shalev — the club’s GM — Sobotka is on his way back to the NHL.
Given he owes the Blues one year on his current contract — a $2.725M deal awarded in arbitration back in 2014 — Sobotka could be playing for St. Louis in the very near future. He’s playoff eligible, and could (theoretically) suit up for one of the Blues’ three remaining regular-season games:
Tonight in Florida, Saturday in Carolina or Sunday at home against the Avalanche.
There are two key dynamics at play here. The first? What the 29-year-old would bring to the table for the playoffs. Though he hasn’t faced NHL competition in three years, he has been a steady, consistent scorer in the KHL — 51 points in 53 games in his first season, then 34 in 44 and 30 in 41 in his second and third.
Prior to bolting St. Louis, Sobotka developed a reputation as a solid defensive forward and penalty killer, one that can win faceoffs. So on that alone, he’s a nice option to have come postseason time. It’s also the equivalent of getting a trade deadline acquisition for nothing.
The second dynamic at play? Sobotka might be around for longer than just this season.
From the Dispatch:
That figure [$2.275 million] would be pro-rated for the little that remains left in the regular season. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Blues had seemed reluctant in recent years to allow Sobotka to play a partial season and then become UFA. But if the club and the forward can agree on a multi-year contract extension, which is likely, then it would make sense to add him to the roster at this time. That appears to be where the situation is headed, and finally, the Sobotka saga will be over.
If Sobotka does join the club, the Blues’ roster will be pretty solid come playoff time. Jori Lehtera recently returned from a concussion, Carl Gunnarsson has come back from a lower-body injury and Paul Statsny (lower body as well) has been upgraded to day-to-day.