Sobotka was never going to settle for a 3-4 line center role, and with Lehtera and Stastny coming in as the 1-2 centers, there was no room for him.
I think you're right. Vladi was probably insulted when the Blues told him they assume Lehtera (0 NHL minutes) is ahead of him on the depth chart and they won't pay him as much as Berglund after a poor season on a bridge contract. He did enough to compete for 2C. Seen lots of comments knocking Sobotka's loyalty (laughable concept in pro sports) but apparently that's not a two-way street. It's like some just rationalize anything the team does...
Berglund and Ott can be the 3-4 line centers, with Bumps competing with Lindstrom for the #3 spot.
Is that an appetizing set up? Lindstrom has flopped on multiple NHL teams. Berglund, by the way, has destroyed the usefulness of the bridge contract. Apparently you can do terrible on it, finish the season injured and still get a big pay raise. He'll get $3.6M to maybe play 3C but Sobotka, who has been clearly better, doesn't merit $4M for the same role. This despite the fact that signing him would save us $2.6M on Ott. Again, and I'm saying this a lot today, huh?
I can't make any sense at all of what the front office is doing. I really don't know if the team is any better, even on paper. If they want grit, why trade Polak for a smaller, less physical player coming off surgery? If they want improved center depth and scoring, why take a gamble on Lehtera and let Sobotka walk over less than $1M per in a league where Pouliot and Bolland get $4M/$5.5M per for 4/5 years? Also, with all this roster turnover since last trade deadline, will the team need time to gel? I don't get this. I have no particular confidence in the Blues' ability to compete with CHI/LA/ANA next season more effectively than the last two. It all just looks like a gamble.