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How the Bobby Ryan Buyout Affects St. Louis

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It seems a bit backwards but the Bobby Ryan buyout might be the Blues saving grace.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at St. Louis Blues Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced early on Friday that Bobby Ryan is being waived for the purpose of a buyout. The long-time Ottawa Senators forward had a staggering $7.25 million cap hit and was due an admirable amount of salary for the remainder of his deal as well.

But the buyout is still a shock. With his contract off the books, Ottawa now has $43.3 million in cap space and is only paying out roughly $31 million in salary next year. Those are insane numbers for an NHL franchise. With Ottawa now somewhere around $15 million off from being at the cap-floor, it seems weird that they’d let go of any pricey contracts.

The logic behind the Ryan buyout does, kind of, make sense, though. And it has major ramifications for the dire Blues cap situation.

How the Bobby Ryan Buyout Affects the Blues

Why’d He Get Bought Out?

Bobby Ryan is still a really affective player. He scored 15 goals and 42 points in 2018-19 and eight points in 24 games this year. He’s not the amazing talent that he once was but that’s to be expected, given the fact that he’s 33.

But Ottawa is broke. Eugene Melnyk, the team’s owner, has no money. Per all of the great Ottawa minds that I’ve spoken to, Melnyk didn’t want to pay the $5.5 million salary, and $2 million signing bonus, that Ryan was due in the coming season.

From the explanations that I’ve heard, it’s really as simple as that. Ottawa is strapped for actual cash. Ryan had the most expensive paycheck on the team and, now that he’s gone, the Senators only have three players on their entire roster that’ll earn over-$4 million next year.

The Affect on the Blues

But the Senators are still a long ways from the cap-floor. And, again coming from the Senators experts I’ve managed to speak to, they’re likely to search out bad contracts to help them reach said floor. Ideally, these bad contracts will have high-cap-hit but low-salary, to help Ottawa save as much money as they can.

Well... the Blues have one great fit... Alex Steen.

I know, I know. I don’t want Steen to leave either, nor do I think he should. But his fit for Ottawa’s situation is perfect.

Steen has a cap hit of $5.75 million but is only due $3.5 million in salary next season. After that, his contract — and likely his NHL career — expires. This is the perfect pickup for Ottawa. They get a high cap hit to help knock out over 13 of the cap they need to find while not bringing in a new “most-expensive-on-the-team” paycheck or a long-term commitment.

It’s the ideal contract for Ottawa and helps the Blues significantly as well. Steen’s cap hit would bring Ottawa’s total cap hit up to $44 million. They could then easily reach the floor by re-signing all 11 of their pending free agents.

Acquiring Steen fixes Ottawa’s cap-floor drama; while also being a very short-term commitment and a low-end paycheck.

The Snag

Of course, there’s one glaring issue. I’ll say it before you do: Steen has a full-NTC. This means that Steen needs to outright agree to any sort of trade. If he doesn’t want to leave St. Louis, this clause guarantees he doesn’t have to.

It’s definitely a bad hangup for the Blues, who are now in the grit of things with Alex Pietrangelo’s contract negotiations. But there is still potential for a trade. The Pittsburgh Penguins just dealt away Patric Hornqvist, despite him also having a full NTC. He was informed of the deal after terms had been agreed to. And while he did have the full right to veto the trade, he says he agreed to it simply because it was clear that Pittsburgh didn’t want him.

Is that a crummy thing to do? Yeah. Is it a terrible look for Pittsburgh’s GM, who has gained a horrible reputation over the last few years? Oh yeah. But it worked. And, well, if the Blues really want to keep Pietrangelo, they need to show it. They need to kick and scream.

Alex Steen has one year left on his deal. Maybe moving to a different city for likely the final year of his career wouldn’t be as big of a deal as some may expect. There is very clearly a new suitor for his contract in Ottawa. So now, all the Blues need to do is find a way to get said contract there. It’d be a whiz of broken hearts and bad vibes but the result would be enough money to comfortably re-sign Pietrangelo.

It’s not likely. At all. But... the door is open.