If it’s up tp the NHL, this season is not over and won’t be over until Gary Bettman says so. For all intents and purposes, though, it is on a very long month and a half pause, and this is giving general managers time to get down to business.
Yesterday, Doug Armstrong inked Sammy Blais to a two-year contract extension at a reasonable $1.5 million AAV cost. Today, Armstrong hunkered down and negotiated with a pending UFA. It wasn’t sure if Scandella was going to be a playoff push signing, or a long term lock. He was acquired on February 18th (which was, shockingly, just two months ago) in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for two draft picks: the Blues’ second round pick in 2020 and their fourth round pick in 2021.
For picks the second round down, it’s a developmental crapshoot, and to get a defenseman that has proven to be a more than capable fill-in for Jay Bouwmeester for that price it’s a bit of a fleecing. Factor in the Habs holding on to $2,000,000 of his salary, and it becomes a steal. In 11 games with the Blues he’s had one assist, but he’s also had his share of fine defensive maneuvers that have endeared him to the Blues faithful.
He was signed today to a four year extension worth $3.75 million a season. This cements his role as the de facto Bouwmeester replacement (because as good as his prognosis is, it’s probably medically unadvisable for JBo to return), and it does so at a pay rate that’s not just below Bouwmeester’s, but below his previous salary by three-quarters of a million dollars AAV.
All of this deal signing has Blues fans wondering what is up Doug Armstrong’s sleeve. Through the end of this season, the Blues have $20,326 in cap space. At the end of this year, the Blues’ UFAs are Troy Brouwer ($750,000), Jay Bouwmeester ($3,250,000), and Alex Pietrangelo ($6,500,000). The team also has UFAs in Vince Dunn, MacKenzie MacEachern, and Jacob del la Rose.
Armstrong is going to have to work some magic here.