Blues’ Kyrou Extension Talks Bringing Clarity to Team’s Future

It’s no secret that the St. Louis Blues wish to keep Jordan Kyrou wearing the blue note for the foreseeable future. He was a point-per-game player in 2021-22 (75 points in 74 games), put on a show in both the Winter Classic and during the NHL All-Star Game festivities, and is one of the young, up-and-coming talents in the league. Still only 24 years old, Kyrou made a name for himself last season, and did so at the perfect time.

According to Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest, the Blues and Kyrou have been discussing a contract extension and reportedly the talks are going well.

Will Kyrou Get the Max?

General manager Doug Armstrong made a huge splash this summer when he signed center Robert Thomas to an eight-year, $65 million contract extension. In doing so, he both gave out the largest contract in franchise history and set the market for young players receiving max-length, eight-year extensions this offseason (Ottawa Senators’ Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev, and Nashville Predators’ Filip Forsberg). Each of these player’s contracts came in around the $8 million average annual value (AAV) mark.

An argument could be made that Kyrou had a better season than each of the players previously mentioned outside of Thomas and Forsberg. In 74 regular-season games in 2021-22, Kyrou scored 27 goals and recorded 48 assists while averaging only 16:35 in average time on ice (ATOI). It’s reasonable to expect that he is only beginning to show what he can produce at the NHL level and should be in line to see more of both top-six and power-play time in 2022-23.

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, 2022 Winter Classic (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Extension talks with Kyrou likely began with both sides looking at an eight-year deal, keeping him in lock-step with Thomas. The on-ice chemistry between these two is on display when they’re paired on the same line, so it makes sense to keep that together for an extended period of time. Where it gets tricky is the money.

Why Extend Kyrou Now?

Currently, the Blues are sitting with $625,000 in available cap space. After the 2022-23 season, the big contracts of Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million), Ryan O’Reilly ($7.5 million) come off the books. To extend Kyrou, keeping with the going rates around the league, he is going to be deserving of a deal somewhere in the $7.5-8.5 million range. To facilitate that deal, and the cap projected to go up only $1 million next offseason, it’s likely that the Blues will have to move on from one of Tarasenko or O’Reilly, or possibly both.

Related: 3 Blues Hot Takes for the 2022-23 Season

Without a new contract kicking in after this season, Kyrou will be a restricted free agent (RFA). Being an RFA means that other teams could offer him a contract with the Blues deciding to either match their offer or relinquish him in exchange for draft pick compensation. In Kyrou’s case, it seems likely that he would get an offer from a competitor and would force the Blues to sign him to that team’s terms. Locking him up now ensures Doug Armstrong and the Blues that they can get Kyrou on board now and into next year’s cap on their terms.

Putting it All Together for Kyrou

When it’s all said and done, I fully expect the Blues to extend Kyrou to a maximum-length, eight-year deal with an AAV of $8 million. He is an elite, young forward who is just now beginning to tap into his offensive potential. The Blues are betting that Kyrou can take his first half from last season (17 goals in 40 games; pacing for 35 total goals) and maintain that pace of play over an entire season. He will also need to improve his effort and production defensively to ensure he’s worth being one of the highest-paid players on the roster.

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Kyrou is a key piece for this franchise going forward. Extending both him and Thomas signals that the Blues are potentially shifting toward a smaller, faster, and more skilled offensive play style, similar to what the rest of the NHL has done for the last few seasons.

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