Despite a report out Russia last week suggesting Vladimir Sobotka will likely remain in the KHL for the 2015-16 season, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes the Blues are still hopeful the forward will return to North America for next season.
The 27-year-old signed a three-year deal with Avangard Omsk last summer worth a reported $12 million after the Blues were unable to come to terms with the restricted free agent.
Sobotka’s KHL deal includes an out clause to return to the NHL following each season.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong met with Sobotka’s agent, Petr Svoboda, at the world championship in the Czech Republic.
The hope is with the decline of Russia’s ruble that Sobotka would consider a return to the NHL.
“I had a good talk with his agent,” Armstrong said. “The agent told me that the money he made last year, they guaranteed him for next year. He’s got two weeks to decide what he’s going to do. I said ‘We’d love to have him back.’ I understand if the economics are so great in the KHL and he has to stay. I respect that. Then we’ll talk again a year from now.”
Sobotka owes the Blues one season at an arbiter-elected salary of $2.7 million. If he decides to remain in the KHL, he and the Blues will be in a similar position next May.
Sobotka has appeared in 247 games with the blues over parts of four seasons scoring 29 goals and 72 assists.
According to a report out of Russia the New Jersey Devils have made a contract offer to Sergei Kalinin.
The 24-year-old forward has spent the past six seasons with Omsk Avangard of the KHL.
Kalinin had 12 goals and 13 assists in 58 games this season.
In 213 KHL games all with Avangard, Kalinin has 31 goals and 68 points.
Vladimir Sobotka, a teammate of Kalinin’s, won’t be returning to the NHL this season. There were rumors the 27-year-old was considering a return to North America for next season; however, Avangard’s GM told TASS that Sobotka is “likely” to remain in the KHL.
Sobotka had 10 goals and 38 points in 53 games this season. He added four goals in 10 games for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship.
Bruins restricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug is still without an NHL contract, but word out of Boston is he may have a new offer to ponder.
According to a report from CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty, Krug has received an offer from a KHL team.
Haggerty points out Krug could’ve been in line for a similar three-year, $10 million deal, which Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat signed. However, with the Bruins already over the salary cap per CapGeek, Krug would have to leave money on the table to sign in Boston.
With an opportunity to build on his rookie season, which saw him appear on the Bruins’ power play, and establish himself as an NHL-regular, it’s hard to understand why Krug would seriously consider crossing the Atlantic. Following the 2014-15 season, Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Krug’s best bet would be to sign a one-year deal and seek a raise next summer where currently the Bruins have upwards of $20 million to play with.
The 23-year-old Livonia, Mich. native has 14 goals and 42 points in 82 career NHL games all with Boston. The un-drafted blue liner saw his three-year entry-level contract expire in July.
Krug burst on to the scene during the 2013 playoffs, after being recalled from Providence on an emergency basis. He appeared in 15 games for the Bruins scoring four goals and two assists after playing just three career regular season games.
If Krug decided to sign in the KHL, he wouldn’t be the only RFA to bolt overseas this summer, Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka left in favor of the Russian league signing a deal with Avangard Omsk.
Related: The Bruins have too many d-men – who will they trade?
The agent for Vladimir Sobotka says that the St. Louis Blues could’ve had his client for $300,000 more than the club was offering on a one-year deal.
“[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,” agent Petr Svoboda told the Post-Dispatch. “We were at one year, $3 million. So basically it was over $300,000. There was no room for negotiation. It was one year at $2.7 (million) — take it.”
Instead, Sobotka is bound for the KHL, where he’ll play at least one season with Avangard Omsk.
Armstrong said yesterday that the Blues offered Sobotka a multi-year deal in June (three, four, or five years, “at his choice”) at “north of $3 million” per season. The 27-year-old restricted free agent was last offered a one-year deal at $2.7 million per, or a two-year deal at $3 million per.
The Blues were willing to give Sobotka more per season on a multi-year deal, as he only had one season remaining before he could become an unrestricted free agent. But they weren’t willing to give him enough, apparently.
Sobotka will still have an arbitration hearing on July 21.
“An award will be given and that will be his contract for the ’14-15 season,” Armstrong said. “We hope that he’ll be at training camp under that contract. If he’s in the KHL, that contract will toll until future years.”
St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong couldn’t confirm today’s report that center Vladimir Sobotka had signed a three-year deal with Omsk of the KHL, at an annual salary of around $4 million.
But what Armstrong did say is this — in June, the Blues offered Sobotka a multi-year deal (three, four, or five years, “at his choice”) at “north of $3 million” per season. The 27-year-old restricted free agent was last 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 told reporters this morning.
But Armstrong is holding out hope that the player will one day — hopefully soon — be wearing the Blues’ uniform again. And he still intends to attend Sobotka’s arbitration hearing on July 21.
“An award will be given and that will be his contract for the ’14-15 season,” he said. “We hope that he’ll be at training camp under that contract. If he’s in the KHL, that contract will toll until future years.”
According to the aforementioned report, Sobotka’s KHL contract has an out following each season, at which point he can choose to return to the NHL.
Clearly, Armstrong wants Sobotka to know he’d be welcomed back with open arms.
“I just want to emphasize that this is a business decision by Vlad that I respect,” said Armstrong. “It does not change my admiration for him as a man and how he plays and what he’s accomplished and what he’s going to accomplish.
“I don’t want to turn this into a personal thing or get it to that point, because it’s not like that.”
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