When the Blues took Vladimir Sobotka to salary arbitration, chances were good that the Blues' occasional second-line center was going to split. Sobotka himself did not elect for it, and the arbitration restricted him from receiving any offersfrom any other team. The Blues have signed Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera, shoving Sobotka down the center depth chart.
And oh, look. Steve Ott still was unemployed.
In a perfect storm of circumstances, the Blues have lost their - and one of the NHL's - best face-off guys to the KHL, per Pierre LeBrun:
Also hearing Vladimir Sobotka has signed with Omsk of the KHL.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 10, 2014
As frustrating as seeing Sobotka on the Blues' second line was at times last season, Sobe was still a very effective player.
Here's what Vladimir Sobotka did for his teammates last year. I'm sensing something of a trend here. pic.twitter.com/D1MySTU7NO— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) July 10, 2014
Unfortunately for Sobotka, as far as center depth goes, the moves made this off-season shoved him down to the third or fourth line. Sobe's face off skills, winning 61.9% of the time, may not've been supremely useful on the fourth line; Steve Ott's 59.7% isn't going to be very useful either. However, his face off percentage is his one redeeming feature.
Ott is a possession black hole.In 23 regular season games with the Blues, he had no goals and three assists. He may bump Maxim Lapierre out of the fourth-line center spot; while I have qualms with Lapierre's playing "style" he was still more effective during the playoffs than Ott.
I realize that this was basically a matter of filling a hole caused by Sobotka walking to Omsk. Sobe's going to be a first or second line center over there, get paid, and will probably be a KHL all-star. Best of luck to him. He wasn't going to get the $4 million he was asking for from the Blues, nor was he worth it to the team. He's worth it to Omsk.
But God, Steve Ott. If you need me, I'll be mixing in some Bailey's and Jameson with my coffee. This is an Irish coffee kind of morning, I believe.