Are you ready for a summer without any Vladimir Sobotka drama? St. Louis Blues fans sure are now that news is out that the forward is returning to the NHL and has signed an extension after spending the last three years with Omsk of the KHL.
The Blues say it’s a three-year extension – which kicks in next season — worth $10.5 million and that Sobotka will be in the lineup Saturday night in Carolina.
Sobotka's 3-yr extension breaks down as follows: $4M, $3.5M, $3M for an AAV of $3.5M. His contract for this weekend has AAV of $2.725M.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 6, 2017
Omsk announced earlier this week that they had terminated Sobotka’s contract, which was due to expire April 30. That opened the door for a return nearly three years after the 29-year-old left for the KHL while he and the Blues were going through the arbitration process.
An arbitrator awarded a one-year, $2.725 million contract, but since Sobotka had already left for Russia, the Blues retained his NHL rights, meaning if he wanted to return he owed the team a year of service. In three seasons with Omsk, he posted 37 goals and 102 points in 138 games.
Because Sobotka is on the Blues’ reserved list, that means he is postseason eligible. He only needed to return and play one game to burn that owed year of service, but there’s no way the team would allow him to come back without agreeing to some sort of extension.
There’s been a rollercoaster of news every spring since Sobotka left for the KHL. His contract held an opt-out clause, allowing him to return to the Blues, but he remained in Omsk. He apparently re-negotiated his contract for more money at one point and lost the clause, St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong said in September.
“Sort of the Coles Notes’ version, he signed a deal there, the ruble crashed, they renegotiated it and my understanding is they told him ‘No problem, sign this,’ and they took the ‘out’ clause out. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know,” he said.
Sobotka’s then-agent, Petr Svoboda, whom he fired in February, kept telling Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Armstrong that his client would come back to the NHL for the 2016-17 season. But having been through this before, Blues fans weren’t holding their breath. Now they won’t have to read any more reports about him “possibly” making a return. It’s reality.
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