NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2022
CAN THE BLUES AFFORD O’REILLY AND TARASENKO?
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports the Blues could find it difficult to re-sign Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev and Niko Mikkola. The four are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he intends to let the season play itself out, “have those guys play.” He didn’t rule out contract negotiations during the coming season. “It means if we do, we’ll do it behind closed doors.”
O’Reilly and Tarasenko will draw the most interest. Both were key players in the Blues’ Stanley Cup run in 2019.
O’Reilly has become the Blues captain and remains among the league’s best two-way players. He also seems to enjoy playing in St. Louis.
Tarasenko, however, requested a trade last summer but enjoyed a career-best 84-point performance last season. Reports emerged this summer claiming he hasn’t rescinded that request.
Both players currently carry an average annual value of $7.5 million. O’Reilly turns 32 in February while Tarasenko will be 31 in December, meaning they won’t be getting eight-year contract extensions like those signed this summer by teammates Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou.
With a projected salary cap of $83.5 million for 2023-24, the Blues will have around $15.95 million in cap space with 13 players under contract. Assuming O’Reilly returns for a cap hit similar to his current one, that’ll leave just $8.45 million for the rest of the roster.
Thomas wondered how much of a pay cut O’Reilly might accept to remain with the Blues. He believes term will be an issue as well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko is likely playing his final season with the Blues. His trade request did not become an issue with his teammates and it’s unlikely to be one this season. Even if he has another 80-point performance, there’s a sense that the rift between himself and the front office hasn’t fully healed.
Signing O’Reilly, on the other hand, is likely to be a priority for Armstrong. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek last week suggested the Blues captain could seek a deal comparable to the seven-year, $49 million contract that Nazem Kadri signed last month with the St. Louis Blues. His colleague, Elliotte Friedman, doubted the Blues will agree to that.
Maybe O’Reilly will accept a pay cut if the Blues offer up a deal of at least five years? That’s something he and Armstrong will have to discuss at some point between now and next July.
If O’Reilly is re-signed, the Blues could be forced to shed salary elsewhere to clear enough room to fill out the remainder of their roster.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS P.K. SUBBAN?
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons observes training camp is fast approaching but P.K. Subban is nowhere to be found. He made a series of calls to people close to the 33-year-old defenseman but hasn’t been able to reach him.
As far as Simmons knows, Subban has neither a place to play nor has he received a training camp invitation. While the former Norris Trophy winner and All-Star isn’t the player he once way, he’s still good enough to end up somewhere with an NHL club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports from earlier this summer claimed Subban was receiving some interest and was evaluating potential destinations. Maybe he’s still deciding where he’ll land or perhaps those teams have moved on to other defensemen.
Training camps open on Sept. 21 and 22. We should know Subban’s fate by week’s end.