Blues appear set in the short-term, but difficult decisions loom

26 Comments

Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance last season combined with his solid showing in 2013-14 gave the St. Louis Blues the confidence to sign him to a eight-year, $60 million contract.

With that the Blues are just about set for the 2015-16 campaign. They still need to re-sign restricted free agent Magnus Paajarvi, but that might be the only remaining action we see from them between now and the start of training camp.

That leaves St. Louis near the salary cap, but with a little bit of wiggle room, per General Fanager. The challenge will come next summer when David Backes and Troy Brouwer are set to become unrestricted free agents while Jaden Schwartz will test the restricted free agent market. Schwartz in particular will likely be expecting a big raise from his current $2.35 million cap hit, assuming he has another strong season after his 63-point 2014-15 campaign.

If the Blues intend to keep defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk then they’ll also need to account for the likelihood that he’ll ask for a big raise too once his current four-year, $17 million deal expires in the summer of 2017.

It sets up a scenario where St. Louis might be compelled over the next year or two to trade players they otherwise wouldn’t have to remain cap compliant.

The big X-Factor in this will be how much the ceiling rises, but as we’ve seen this year with the decline of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, big increases in the cap aren’t a given.

Related: Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors