Entering the 2022-23 season, the St. Louis Blues are no different than any other NHL team when it comes to poor contracts on their payroll. Though it doesn’t stop them from being a contender, general manager Doug Armstrong has given out some regrettable deals over the last few seasons.
4. Jordan Binnington, Goaltender
$6 million AAV through the 2026-27 season
Jordan Binnington has struggled throughout most of this contract he signed prior to the 2021-22 season. He hasn’t quite reached the form he had during the 2018-19 Stanley Cup run or the 2019-20 season that followed. There are many reasons for this, but it’s hard to pinpoint one of them.
Over the last two regular seasons, Binnington has a 36-28-12 record and a save percentage (SV%) of .906. The numbers aren’t the worst, but they are not worthy of the $6 million contract. The six-year term of his contract is solid as he will be just 33 years old when it ends. But he hasn’t proven to be one of the highest-paid goaltenders in the league, especially during the last two seasons.
The Blues can keep this contract on the books for now, but they need to see improvements in the regular season from Binnington to make it worthwhile. His performance in the 2022 playoffs prior to getting injured is a hopeful sign that he regained his form. There is no doubt that the Blues will rely heavily on Binnington to have success in the 2022-23 season.
3. Brayden Schenn, Center
$6.5 million AAV through the 2027-28 season
Brayden Schenn is a valuable and useful player for the Blues. I don’t deny that, but I am saying that his contract is rough. There are six seasons left of this deal for him, and he will be 36 years old when it runs up. He plays a hard-nosed and gritty style, but that can lead to injuries. Luckily for Schenn and the Blues, he has played in 343 of 373 possible games since the 2017-18 season. He’s been productive as well, but there is no denying that his game has steadily declined in the past couple of seasons.
He had a quietly productive season in 2021-22, tallying 58 points in 62 games, but it’s hard for Armstrong to justify Schenn making $6.5 million per season as a center when they have better players in front of him. Both Ryan O’Reilly and Robert Thomas are more valuable to the Blues than Schenn, which would mean that Schenn is the third-line center. I anticipate that the third-line center making $6.5 million could become a salary cap issue down the road. The Blues have put him on the wing before, and that’s fine, but he’s not going to consistently score enough to make the contract worth it.
It’s hard for me to see a scenario where this ends well for Schenn or the Blues. Unless he stays healthy and produces more than expected, this could end in a trade. He’s been an important part of the success over the past five seasons. He scored an important goal in Game 7 of the 2019 Cup Final to make it a 3-0 lead for the Blues, which essentially put the game away. With all of that said, this contract is unlikely to age well.
2. Colton Parayko, Defenseman
$6.5 million AAV through the 2029-30 season
The Colton Parayko contract comes into effect for the 2022-23 season, and it’s the most divisive topic amongst Blues fans. The Blues gave Parayko a whopping eight-year contract extension to protect themselves from allowing him to hit the open market after a rough 2020-21 season. He bounced back in 2021-22 offensively, but the defensive game still lacks the necessary power and prowess they need.
The Blues let captain Alex Pietrangelo walk after the 2019-20 season, allowing them to make Parayko their number one defenseman. But injuries and other factors have forced Parayko to miss time and struggle on the ice. His offensive production doesn’t matter; it’s what he does defensively that matters. He has not been comfortable in front of the Blues’ net, and it has been evident, as the last three seasons have shown.
The main reason why this is a bad contract is due to inconsistency in Parayko’s health and play on the ice. He also hasn’t had a good partner next to him after Jay Bouwmeester had to retire. The hope is that Parayko will continue to form chemistry with Nick Leddy, and they create some magic, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. It’s hard for me to believe that this contract will age well when Parayko is 36 years old in the final season of the deal.
1. Marco Scandella, Defenseman
$3.275 million AAV through the 2023-24 season
The cap hit and term aren’t the issue with the Marco Scandella contract. It’s the fact that the Blues don’t have a role for Scandella, and they haven’t for a couple of seasons now. They are already jammed up on the left-handed side of the defense, especially with the emergence of Scott Perunovich last season. Scandella was a solid addition for the Blues at the deadline in 2020, but they made the mistake of giving him a four-year extension during the COVID-19 suspended season. Once play picked back up in the playoff bubble, he has struggled on the blue line.
The decision by the Blues to re-sign Leddy tells me that they are ready to move on from Scandella. The problem is that they don’t do buyouts, and the cost to move a bad contract with term left is sky high. It looks to me like they will have him sitting in the press box unless injuries strike. The Scandella contract was a mistake from when the pen hit the paper, and the Blues appear to be realizing that now.
Overall, the Blues don’t have a lot of poor contracts. There are arguments to make that at least two of these contracts shouldn’t be considered poor. But the current state of the cap in the NHL is a major issue due to the lack of growth over the past few seasons. Salary cap space is as sacred as it’s been before, and teams need to have as much flexibility as possible. None of these contracts help them to be flexible, but time will tell if that changes.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.