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Game Time Mail Bag: Thomas, offer sheets, and Sundqvist’s return

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It’s time for part two of this week’s mailbag!

NHL: FEB 23 Bruins at Blues Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We were going to include all of these excellent questions together in yesterday’s post, but for clarity’s sake, we’ve decided to split them. Here’s your continuation of Game Time Mail Bag. Remember, if you have a question, please send them over to hildymacgt at gmail dot com or use the hashtag #GameTimeMailBag on Twitter.

Question three for this week comes to us from Thomas Flaker:

I can’t recall the rules for offer sheets for RFA’s, or if they are restricted to certain times of the year, but is Robert Thomas “eligible’ for an offer sheet from another team? If so, I’m not sure why some other team does not do this as it would seriously cause the Blues some pain as they are out of cap space to match any offer.

Yep, Thomas is offer sheet eligible. His contract last season had a AAV of $1,177,500, which according to Elliotte Friedman, would put him firmly in the “no compensation needed” camp. The Blues would lose Thomas to whatever team offer sheeted him with no compensation coming back in return, and that is not something that Doug Armstrong wants to have happen.

Offer sheets aren’t a common thing, and I’ve always felt that has to do with teams’ GMs wanting to negotiate trades from a position of mutual respect. Doing what’s best for your team now may prevent a GM from doing something else in the future, so I don’t think that NHL general managers want to use this bridge burning too often.

Next up, we have a question from Michael Miller:

During the off season, I spend much time keeping tabs on what’s going on with free agency and roster moves. Looking forward to seeing the Tarasenko trade results, though I am sorry to see him depart. We Need More Goal Production!!! Will the Blues go after anyone else besides signing RT?

Honestly, I think that they’re pretty done unless a miracle happens and Doug Armstrong can deal Tarasenko for a return that he feels is best for the Blues. Whoever they acquire will take up roster space, albeit less, but if the team has to hold salary, the whole situation will probably have the Blues still butted up against the cap.

Finally, we have a bunch from James Nold:

  1. are the NYR still in the market for Tarasenko to replace the 20 some goals they lost in Buchnevich? If not, who is still a potential buyer?
  2. I would be willing to eat some(!) of Tarasenko’s $7.5MM, but not more than about $2MM. Does that sound reasonable?
  3. Is Army waiting for this situation to resolve before signing Thomas?
  4. When is Sunny scheduled to return?
  5. What are your lines, assuming Tarsenko is gone and we do not get a top 9 forward in return, and Sunny is back and Thomas is signed? (heres a stab - looks a tad thin to me without Bozak and Schwartz)

Perron---O’Ry---Buchnevich

Schenn---Thomas---Kyrou

Sanford---Sundqvist---Saad

Clifford---Barbashev---MacKeachern/Kostin

cracks knuckles

I don’t think that Chris Drury would say no to Tarasenko, but after the reaction to trading Buchnevich from fans and players, I don’t know if the Rangers would do another swap with the Blues this off-season. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, you won’t get fooled again, or however that goes. I have a feeling that if Tarasenko does go to New York, it’d be to the Islanders - arguably the better of the three New York based NHL teams.

I think that eating $2 million of Tarasenko’s contract is reasonable if Armstrong wants him traded that badly. Teams are (understandably) hesitant about trading for someone who has had three shoulder surgeries. It’ll be difficult to get a return without holding on to salary. If it could’ve been done before without holding, the deal probably already would’ve been done. With the Blues’ philosophy of spending to the cap, having $2 million on the books without anything to show for it may be distasteful to Stillman and Armstrong, and it could hamper the Blues in other ways in the future if the cap stays low.

I do think that Armstrong is trying to wait as long as he can so he knows what he’s working with. Thomas probably wants a raise, and Armstrong would like to give him one, but he won’t be able to pay him a decent amount until Tarasenko’s contract goes or if the team’s planning to start the season with Sundqvist on the LTIR...

Which I suppose answers the next question. I haven’t heard about or read about a for sure date of a return for Sundqvist past him being re-evaluated at camp. A good way to tell if Sunny’s coming back would be to keep your ears peeled for news on Robert Thomas’ deal.

I think that the best suggested four forward lines so far this off-season have been Jeremy Rutherford’s at The Athletic (subscription required). His leave Kostin off, which speaks to his level of confidence that the forward impresses at camp.

For whatever reason, I share JR’s optimism.