While fan-favorite T.J. Oshie remains unsigned, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong is still getting down to business.
Armstrong has retained the rights to Vladimir Sobotka, Chris Porter, Nikita Nikitin and T.J. Hensick.
Vladimir Sobotka signs a three-year, $3.9 million contract extension
Deal will reportedly pay Sobotka $1.2 million next season, then $1.3 million, then $1.4 million.
Sobotka’s contract may be considered a steal for St. Louis. In his first season as a Blue, Sobotka set career-highs in goals (7), assists (22) and points (29). Sobotka, who was acquired from Boston last summer for prospect defenseman David Warsofsky, truly exceeded expectations in 2010-11. Mainly expected to be a fourth-line grinder who could put a few pucks in the net, Sobotka saw a lot of time on the top two scoring lines due to numerous injuries to top-forwards. It is obvious that Armstrong is impressed with Sobotka and will expect him to reach career-highs again sometime in the near future.
Chris Porter signs a one-year contract extension. Terms were not disclosed.
The deal is believed to be in the $550K - $800K range.
Porter, 27 and a native of Toronto, Ontario, played in 45 games for the Blues last season. Playing primarily on the fourth line, Porter contributed three goals and four assists to the club. As a member of the Peoria Rivermen, Porter’s best AHL season came in 2009-10 when he amassed 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points in 80 games played. Porter is expected to challenge for a permanent spot on the Blues’ checking line, as he seems to be in good graces with Armstrong.
“I'd like to publicly say it, the person who took the greatest advantage of his opportunity was [Chris] Porter,” Armstrong told Blues beat-writer Lou Korac at the end of the season. “He came in and he really stepped up. In his role, he was the most effective of the call-up players in my opinion. He was the one guy that came in and really said that he wants to position himself to be on the cups of being an everyday NHL player. [Ryan] Reaves came up and played well, too, but no one was more consistent at that than Porter. So I want to give that accolade to him.”
Nikita Nikitin signs a one-year contract extension. Terms were not disclosed.
The deal is believed to be in the $700K - $1.1 million range.
There is not one Blue that took better advantage of his opportunities last season than Nikita Nikitin. The native of Omsk, Russia bounced between the Rivermen and Blues early last season but became a mainstay after his January 23 call-up. After that, Nikitin settled down defensively and even scored his first NHL goal. Nikitin finished his rookie season with 1 goal and 8 assists and posted a plus-1.
T.J. Hensick signs a two-year contract extension. Terms were not disclosed.
The deal is believed to be in the $600K - $1 million range.
Hensick is a fast skater that can find the back of the net or an open teammate more often than not. Last season, Hensick led the Rivermen in points with 69 (21G, 48A). He has a good shot that will fear any goalie… in the AHL. Hensick has found himself hitting the wall when he gets the call-up to the NHL. Hensick averaged 2.76 shots-per-game when playing with the Rivermen, but only averaged 1.08 shots-per-game in his 13 games played in St. Louis. His ice-time obviously plays a huge factor in that statistic but Hensick has to be more effective if he plans on playing on the NHL club. More likely than not, Hensick will dazzle Peoria fans most of the season and be one of the first call-ups when an injury happens to the Blues’ forwards.
Blues News and Notes: The Blues also announced that they have signed forward Sebastian Wannstrom, their second-round draft selection from 2010. The Blues picked Wannstrom 44th overall… Jeremy Rutherford reports that the Blues are likely letting UFAs Cam Janssen and Ty Conklin walk come July 1. They will want to promote from within, as Ben Bishop and Ryan Reaves are hopeful to step in and take their spots.
The Blues still have seven players under contract who are slated to be free-agents on July 1.
Forwards: T.J. Oshie (RFA), B.J. Crombeen (RFA), Cam Janssen (UFA), Matt D’Agostini (RFA), Dave Scatchard (UFA)
Defensemen: Tyson Strachan (RFA)
Goalies: Ty Conklin (UFA)