The St. Louis Blues have been hesitant to give their own players extensions over the last few seasons. From Colton Parayko to Brayden Schenn and others, general manager Doug Armstrong has been using his cap space.
As for this offseason, the Blues have some contracts to be sorted out. They will have to make some moves to clear up cap space, one of those being a trade of somebody like Marco Scandella. Here are three players that they could extend this summer.
This seems like an obvious one, the Blues should certainly look to extend their captain this offseason. He has one more season left after this, with a cap hit of $7.5 million. Ryan O’Reilly is the leader of the team and remains one of the best two-way forwards in the league.
His offensive numbers have been down this season, as he only has 19 points in 30 games, which is well under his usual numbers. The Blues’ depth is a big part of this, other lines are scoring much more and O’Reilly is not playing as much as he did over the last few seasons. It also seems like his stint on the COVID-19 list hurt his game whether he would admit it or not.
His goal-scoring trends have been the same in four seasons as a Blue, he’s been a 20-plus goal scorer in two of three seasons. He had only 12 goals in 71 games in the 2019-20 season, and he only has five of them this season.
Even with his numbers being down, I expect an extension for him to be around the same cap hit. Something in the realm of five seasons and an annual average value (AAV) of $7.25 million could be a solid way to start the conversation. Either way, the Blues shouldn’t want him to hit the open market, that could end up being three lost captains in seven seasons.
David Perron is set to be a free agent this offseason, and he’s been a staple of the Blues organization off and on for many seasons. He’s spent a total of eleven seasons as a Blue, with three different stints overall. This season, he’s missed games due to injury, but he’s been solid with 20 points in 23 games.
Either way, he’s an important player for this team and fits on almost any line. His puck possession and defensive abilities are two underrated parts of his game. His chemistry with O’Reilly and what’s building with Brandon Saad is fantastic. In his third stint with the Blues over the last four seasons, he has 75 goals and 109 assists for 184 points in 207 games. He was an All-Star in the 2019-20 season prior to the pause, and deservedly so.
By looking at those numbers, he’s been tremendous, one of the most productive forwards for this club. The Blues need to extend him and keep him here for a few more seasons, it would be nice if he could end his career here. A way to start these negotiations is a solid three to a four-year deal with an AAV of $5 million or more.
I’m all for the Blues extending a breakout player like Ivan Barbashev, and it makes sense to get it done sooner rather than later. His connection and duties for this team are enormous, especially this season, where he’s scored 27 points in 33 games.
As of now, he has one season left on his contract after this season, with an AAV of $2.25 million. That AAV is a complete steal given his numbers and two-way impact, but the Blues need to lock him up. He and Oskar Sundqvist have been vital bottom-six forwards for this team over the last few seasons, though Barbashev has taken the next step this season.
One thing the Blues can’t do is split Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich up, they’ve been two of the most consistent forwards for the team this season. One of the best things about Barbashev’s game is the versatility, he can play center or either wing. He plays a 200-foot game and is finally breaking out on offense, he and the Blues should capitalize with a new contract for him.
As for what the contract could look like, the term could be higher with a lower AAV. That type of contract is something that the Blues have done with a lot of players. It feels like a four to a six-year deal with an AAV of $4.5 million could be a place to start. We’ve seen valuable two-way, middle-six forwards get long-term contracts, the biggest examples being Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.
At the end of the day, I don’t expect Armstrong to hesitate when it comes to locking in more of his own players into long-term contract extensions. The priority list should be in the order of how I presented it, even though two of the three players have one more season left after this one in their current deals. An interesting summer is ahead in St. Louis, as the Blues continue to navigate the salary cap.
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Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.