Most of the RFA haggling updates from TSN’s latest Insider Trading segment seemed to trot out the same vague doom and gloom – things still appear pretty “nasty” between Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets, while there’s similarly little progress with Dan Ellis and the Nashville Predators – but Pierre LeBrun provides somewhat-promising news regarding Jaden Schwartz and the St. Louis Blues.
The good: The two sides appear to be making progress and are $500K apart on a two-year “bridge” deal, which at least stands as promising compared to the Johansen and Ellis situations.
The bad: $500K can be a bigger mountain to climb than one might think … just ask Vladimir Sobotka, who allegedly left for the KHL over about $300K.
LeBrun reports that the Blues’ offer is at around a $2 million mark while Schwartz’s representatives are angling for about $2.6 million.
St. Louis is taxed quite a bit cap-space wise (LeBrun notes that the Blues are “counting every penny,”), but it’s plausible that Schwartz could be a steal at either price in 2014-15.
In the 22-year-old’s first true full season of NHL action (it’s tempting to throw out 2013-14 stats sometimes), Schwartz scored 25 goals and 56 points in 80 games played while showing significant improvements in possession stats. There are some interesting parallels between Schwartz and Johansen – from age to pedigree to seeing an enormous jump in productivity last season – but the remarkable thing is that it isn’t outrageous to expect comparable numbers from Schwartz … even though it sounds like he could be much cheaper to sign.
(At least through 2014-15 and maybe 2015-16, that is.)
Some may criticize Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s ways considering Sobotka’s painful departure, but St. Louis enjoys a deep roster full of bargains (examples: David Backes at just $4.5 million per season and T.J. Oshie for only $4 million). Letting Schwartz walk over what could be a marginal amount of money would add some serious fuel to the fire, though.