St. Louis Blues announced this afternoon that they extended qualifying offers to nine restricted free agents: Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais, Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Oskar Sundqvist, Joel Edmundson, Mitch Reinke, Jordan Binnington, and Ville Husso. Conner Bleackley (C) and Nikita Soshnikov (RW). Soshnikov moved back to Russia to play in the KHL after playing 11 games last season with the San Antonio Rampage and 5 games with the St. Louis Blues.
Out of the forwards that received qualifying offers, Barbashev and Sundqvist saw the most ice team during the regular season and each scored 14 goals and had a total of 26 and 31 points respectively. During the playoffs, Sundqvist was the shining stars of their RFA class. Sundqvist tallied 4 goals and 5 assists for the most points (9) out of any of this season’s RFA class. The Sundqvist line was an integral part of the Blues’ championship run, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. Sundqvist saw the most ice time out of any other RFA forwards in the playoffs with 403 minutes and had a below 50% SAT For percentage and a 52% Goals For percentage. Sundqvist is also one of four RFAs extended qualifying offers who are eligible for arbitration. Out of all the RFA forwards, Sundqvist has made the best case for the best offer, and he has the ability to appeal if he feels he should earn more than what Armstrong is willing to pay. Out of all the forwards, the Sundqvist negotiations should be the most interesting to watch.
Edmundson is the only roster defenseman for the Blues who was an RFA at the end of the season. He earned 11 points in the regular season and 7 points in the playoffs. He also scored 2 goals in the regular season and 1 goal in the playoffs. He saw the 4th most minutes out of all Blues’ defensemen during the playoffs, while accumulating a positive SAT differential and a negative goal differential. He also hsa the largest minimum qualifying offer at $3 million.
Now, with all that being said, all eyes are going to be on the Jordan Binnington negotiations. Binnington was a key component in the Blues’ mid-season turn around and one of the principle reasons why the team brought home its first ever Stanley Cup. During the playoffs, Binnington and Rask tied for the best 5v5 save percentage (.933) out of all goalies who played at least 400 minutes during the playoffs. During the regular season, Binnington’s 5v5 save percentage (.941) was the best out of all goaltenders who played at least 1000 minutes.
The contracts that Armstrong negotiates with Binnington and Sundqvist could very well set the tone for the remainder of the RFAs as well as with the handful of unrestricted free agents. As of today, Cap Friendly has the Blues’ salary cap at $64.2 million with cap space of $17.2 million. Joel Edmundson’s qualifying offer is the largest of all the RFA’s this season at $3 million. So that gives the Blues only $14 million left for the remaining RFA’s and unrestricted free agents. Binnington’s offer is calculated by Cap Friendly to be $715,000. I could see Binnington making at least double that, but for how many years?