Stewart Files for Arbitration...Talks Continue. Plus More on Petro
From the world of not so shocking news, Chris Stewart, Blues goals and points leader from this past season, has filed for arbitration.
The paperwork was officially sent to the league on Tuesday.
While the arbitration process has formally begun, negotiations on a contract extension between he and the Blues have also picked up.
Several different concepts have been discussed with the Blues willing to doing a long-term deal. If both sides actually go to arbitration, St. Louis has the choice of accepting either a one or two year deal. A two-year contract walks the 25-year old right up to unrestricted free agency.
Since arriving in St. Louis via the infamous middle of the night trade that sent Erik Johnson and Jay McClement to Colorado in exchange for Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, Stewart has had his share of ups and downs. He got off to a hot start this past season before cooling down but still led the team with 18 goals and 36 points. He like the rest of the Blues offensive core, dealt with major scoring slumps at one time or another during the season.
I wrote earlier in the week that Stewart is an ideal fit to be paired with newly signed center Derek Roy whose give-and-go ability, high end vision, and play making ability gives Stewart and the team the skilled center they’ve been missing for several years. Stewart was on the rise in Colorado playing next to Paul Stastny whose game is eerily similar to Roy’s.
Armstrong agrees that Stewart and Roy are a natural fit and sees Alex Steen joining them on a very formidable top line.
Stewart’s scoring inconsistencies could prevent him from landing the salary he’s aiming for in these negotiations. Another season in a Blues uniform would go a long way in helping the team solidify their opinion of the former Kingston Frontenac. It could also cost the Blues down the road.
There’s risk on both sides in taking a shorter deal. If Stewart’s offense slips, then he’ll be leaving money on the table. If he plays the way most believe he can, the Blues could be the ones regretting not paying him what he currently wants. If this guy produces at the clip he did this past year, he’ll be looking at another year of balanced production. When you factor in his willingness to stick up for his teammates along with his offense, one can only imagine what that would pay in the open market.
The Blues are willing to pay Stewart the same $4.1 average they gave T.J. Oshie last summer in his five-year extension. With two 28-goal seasons and 18 in 48 this season, he has every reason to believe he’s worth more.
The positive here is that the two sides are talking. It appears a few more productive conversations can lead to an arbitration hearing being avoided.
The Blues seem to be in no rush to get Pietrangelo signed. Doesn’t mean they don’t want to get a deal done, but it’s safe to assume they know what they’re willing to pay and I don’t see that tune changing anytime soon. The Blues have no issue giving Pietrangelo a long-term deal but the AAV probably won’t approach the Doughty-spere.
Meaning I don’t see them giving him $7 million a year coming out of entry level. St. Louis is far more interested in the next two years for Pietrangelo than they are five years from now. There’s plenty of time between now and the time he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent to agree to a long-term extension.
The Blues hold the cards and like Montreal did with P.K. Subban last off-season, they’ll remain patient.
Subban’s holdout led to him missing training camp and the Habs first six games of the regular season. He went on the win the Norris Trophy after signing a two-year, $5.75 million deal.
I’m not suggesting the Pietrangelo situation will reach this level but neither side seems in any hurry to move soon. Pietrangelo’s deal will be significantly higher than the contract Subban signed last January.
Even if Pietrangelo were to holdout the Blues feel very comfortable with how their defense stacks up even without him in the lineup. Again I’m not predicting a holdout will or won’t happen, but considering both Pietrangelo and Subban share the same agency it’s certainly a possibility.
Doug Armstrong has told me the Blues will have no issue fitting Pietrangelo and Stewart’s contracts under the salary cap. Technically that is true as teams are allowed to go 10% over the cap as long as they’re under the ceiling by the first game of the season. Once the two players are signed they’ll know how much salary needs to be slashed. It’s safe to say they have an exit strategy in place.
Stickhandling legend Sean Skinner will be conducting a clinic at the Ice Zone inside the St. Louis Mills coming up August 5th-9th. For those who haven’t seen Skinner’s videos may want to stop by and check it out.
St. Louis native Blake Clarke, who put up 51 points for Brampton as a 17-year old in the OHL this past season, was cut from the upcoming U-17 Ivan Hlinka tournament roster. This is the second summer in a row Clarke has been cut by USA Hockey. Keep in mind the USA National Development players out of Ann Arbor, Mi are not eligible to participate in the tourney. You’re telling me Clarke, projected now as a 2014 NHL first round pick, isn’t one of the top 40 American U-17 players?
Jake Allen has until July 20th to accept his qualifying offer which is unlikely. He could agree to a two-year deal that pays him one-way money in the second season.
More to come,
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