Ask yourself.....Are you comfortable giving Stewert a 4 years 22 million dollar deal?
Of course you're not, trade him now.
If the dude wins the scoring title and we when the cup, your still not comfortable doing that. Not only are you not comfortable doing that, but if you did it would also cost you two of the other RFA Petro, Shatty, and Bergie.
I know many here refuse to believe what the team tells us, but they have been quite clear that they are not going above the current salary level...they are not going to spend more then 55 mill.
You have to allocate that money accordingly, and be very very careful with each and every dollar.
The question here is "Would Stewart be willing to sign a two year 8 million dollar deal" if so, he could stick around....I just don't think he's going to be receptive of that idea. He's playing some great hockey and probably want's to cash in. Stranger things have happened and maybe he really wants to be here.....but Army has to get a pretty good feel on what Stewarts demands are going to be now.
Both JR and Strickland touched on the subject of trading Stewart last week and both suggested it's going to come down two how quickly Steen, MacD, Tank, and Oshie could get back. Well, after tomorrow night, everyone will be back but Oshie......I would expect the rumor mills to start turning in earnest.
Let me clarify....I would love to see everyone back next year (Pie, Shatty, Bergie, Stewart and everyone else that is already under contract) ....except Andy Mac, too expensive...but if that's going to happen and you're going to address your need for a left defensman you're looking at adding 5 - 10 million in payroll (minimum) and ownership has been adamant that that is not an option.
If you let Andy Mac walk, have Elliot claimed on waivers move Halak and his contract....that would free up some jack and you'd have nearly 28 mill to spend to get to the 52 million dollar level..BUT...you have to replace Andy, get a back up goaltender, and then you have to resign or replace the following list of FAs...Allen, Stewart, Bergie, Dags,Nichol, Porter, Pie, Shatty, Russel, Cole, and Redden.
That's 13 players out of 27 mill....you can't have many 4 - 6 million dollar year contracts contracts there.
Oh...and if you keep Halak, you've only got 12 to sign, but you'd have nearly 4 mill less to work with.
All I know is it's going to be interesting and my best guess is at least one 'name' won't be back.
I would say AMac is definitely gone but the Blues hang on to Halak. Who else do we have? Allen is young and unproven, if playing very well right now. So it's trade or sign a new #1 (not backup until Allen proves he's got it). Personally I think that might be more expensive and/or risky than just hanging onto Halak.
I know the dollars are what they are and there's only so far we can stretch them. In my mind, Shatty and Pietrangelo MUST be re-signed. Obviously for as good of a bargain as we can get but those two guys are #1 and #2 priorities. Forwards next.
edit: And after crunching some numbers I see what you mean and it's not looking so hot. Assuming we let go Amac, D'Agostini (not happy about it but I think we have to), Porter (unless he's a really low re-sign which is totally possible), Nichol, Langenbrunner, Redden, and Elliott, we're left with (counting the salaries the re-signed guys made this year) at:
$20.5 (roughly) million for: Berglund, Stewart, Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Russell, Allen and Cole. So I got slightly different numbers than you got. Or, roughly $2.9 million per guy if we retained them all. Personally it wouldn't break my heart to see Russell go (even though he's probably the cheapest of all those guys) but you're right: Pietro and Shatty are going to command hefty contracts which drops the average that the other 5 can realistically expect to get from us, IF we don't spend anything additional. Looks like someone is going to walk/ get traded