Blues Extend Qualifying Offers To RFAs; Waive Kris Russell

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The off-season grind has officially begun, as the Blues enter into negotiations with their restricted free agents.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is starting to wrap up some loose ends in preparation for the long off-season. He has quite a few restricted free agents to re-sign, and a log-jam at defense to figure out.

Today Armstrong took a step towards figuring out that defensive issue by placing RFA defenseman Kris Russell on waivers. The Blues just re-signed Ian Cole to a contract extension of two years at a cap hit of $825,000. Russell has a salary of $1,300,000 and it's unclear if he will be going for a raise once negotiations kick up. I'll go out on a limb and assume that since he's been waived, Army won't be giving him one. I would be shocked if a team in need of some defensive help doesn't grab him.

Why waive him? Because on defense the Blues have him, Cole, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jay Bouwmeester, Roman Polak, and Barret Jackman. Also, there's unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold, who played well on the second pairing with Shattenkirk and who may be approached for a new deal. There's a log jam there. My question is more along the lines of why not attempt to package him with someone? I assume that is what'll be done if he isn't claimed. Russell isn't an AHL defenseman.

The Blues had a busy day today, meeting the NHL's deadline for extending qualifying offers to RFAs that they would like to keep. They extended offers to Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart, Jake Allen, Kris Russell, Evgeny Grachev, Philip McRae, Cade Fairchild and Tyler Shattock. Being let go from the organization are Jay Barriball, Anthony Nigro, Stephan Della Rovere, Brett Sonne and Paul Karpowich.

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