Value contracts are one of the biggest things to have when you want to win a Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues had those in 2019. They still have them now to a lesser degree, that’s what happens when you win, you have to pay more for your players.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been unafraid to give out long-term contract extensions to players, we’ve seen it with Brayden Schenn and Colton Parayko. However, a player like Alex Pietrangelo walked in free agency, because there is a limit to what Armstrong will do. He made it clear that the no-movement clause was a no-go for him.
This is the most obvious one, the contract that Perron signed prior to the 2018-19 season was perfect value. At $4 million per season, he has outproduced his deal by a lot. The only thing that has gone wrong for him during this contract was the COVID issues that kept him out of the 2020-21 playoffs.
In the first three seasons of the deal, he has scored 164 points in 184 games. His chemistry with Ryan O’Reilly is unmatched, and the numbers show that he has been better in St. Louis than anywhere else.
Not only has he produced offensively, but he is also a terrific two-way forward and power-play shooter. He does so many good things to help the Blues win, many of which that don’t appear on the scoresheet. I don’t think that people outside of St. Louis appreciate what Perron does as a complete player. He has won a Stanley Cup, and appeared in an All-Star game in his third go-around with the Blues — not bad for a former first-round pick in 2007. He’s aged perfectly for the Blues, and should finish his career here if all goes as planned.
I realize that this is a bridge deal, and only for two restricted free agent (RFA) seasons, but the value is still good. At $2.8 million, Kyrou is an explosive offensive playmaker who can build on his breakout 2020-21 season.
Kyrou is expected to play in a top-six role this season, likely alongside Schenn, a combination that showed flashes last season. Consistency is something that he must work on, as he hit a cold streak for most of the second half last season.
Despite the inconsistency, Kyrou tallied 35 points in 55 games, including 14 goals. That is promising, considering he didn’t play consistent minutes, averaging under 15 per game. I expect him to build on last season and breakout into a different level with a 30-plus goal season within the next two seasons.
Normally, folks wouldn’t say that a $7.5 million cap hit is a “best value” candidate, but I disagree. O’Reilly is worth $7.5 million and much more, he is one of the best two-way forwards in hockey.
When you look at the numbers that O’Reilly has produced since his trade to St. Louis, consistency is the first thing that comes to mind. He has scored 64 goals and 128 assists for 192 points in 209 games since the 2018-19 season, leading the Blues during that time.
Outside of Patrice Bergeron, the comparables for O’Reilly and their contracts makes this the great value that it is. The big two to look at would be Mark Stone at $9.5 million and Sean Couturier at $7.75 million, both making less than O’Reilly. Both of those are terrific two-way forwards, but far less accomplished than O’Reilly to this point.
The fact that I could only find three players for this list is less than ideal for the Blues. They have a high-paid defensive unit that doesn’t produce enough to be classified as good value. Goaltender Jordan Binnington makes around market value, maybe even too much at $6 million per season.
The way that the Blues have structured contracts since their Cup win has been in between what we normally see. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings paid a huge price for winning their multiple Cups in the 2010s, while the Blues and Lightning have been somewhat in between those huge numbers since.
Either way, you have to pay players a lot of money to win hockey games, and the Blues continuously spend to the salary cap to put a winning team on the ice. I expect it will hurt them eventually, as some of their cap hit numbers are far too high.
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.