St. Louis Blues Being Held Hostage by Salary Cap


With the St. Louis Blues’ forward corps being ravaged by injuries, many expected them to call up a player to join the lineup for Thursday’s game. In a rather surprising turn of events, however, all three injured forwards on the active roster—David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Joakim Lindstrom—failed to suit up against the Anaheim Ducks, yet the team still chose to use only 11 forwards, instead dressing defenseman Jordan Leopold to fill the final skater spot on their 20-man game roster and going with an unusual balance of 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Upon further examination, the Blues actually cannot afford to call up any more players. With winger Dmitrij Jaskin having been called up a week ago to replace injured center Paul Stastny, the pro-rated portion of his $706,048 average annual contract value is counting towards the cap on a daily basis. That leaves the team with roughly $408,270 of available cap space, which means that the cap hit of every player in the Blues’ minor league system would be too great for any of them to be called up.

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Quite frankly, there’s not a whole lot that the Blues can do to ease this problem, especially since the late signing of forward Jaden Schwartz, creating a $2.35 million-dollar yearly cap hit for him, didn’t give management much time to plan for these types of issues.

The best scenario would likely involve a trade of Leopold or forward Magnus Paajarvi, who make $2.25 and $1.2 million, respectively. If it was performed today, a trade of Leopold for draft picks and/or a non-NHL player with no retained salary would bump the Blues up to $2,021,604 in cap space if they called up rookie defenseman Petteri Lindbohm to replace him.

Doing the same for Paajarvi would leave the team with $1,608,270 of cap room. So while it’s a virtual impossibility that the Blues will be anything other than tight against the cap this year, at least we know that moving a rather insignificant contributor could create a little bit of breathing room.