Ty Rattie is now under contract with the Blues for next season, but will he be able to seize an NHL role?
The St. Louis Blues announced on Wednesday afternoon that they’ve signed winger Ty Rattie to a one-year, one-way contract worth $650,000. Rattie, who scored four goals and added two assists in 13 NHL games during 2015-16, was a restricted free agent for the first time this summer. He also had 17 goals and 29 assists in 62 games with the AHL Chicago Wolves.
At the Blues’ season wrap-up press conference earlier this summer, GM Doug Armstrong expressed a desire to give the 23-year-old Rattie a better chance at cracking the NHL roster in 2016-17:
"“I would say Ty Rattie is the first name that pops off the screen for me. He’s played three years in the American Hockey League now. You’ve never maxed out in your life because you can always get better but he needs to get a very good look at what we’re doing here. That would be the only player that really jumps off the screen.”"
The terms of Rattie’s contract and the length of time that it took to get done indicate that there was probably some contention between the two sides over whether Rattie was worthy of a one-way deal or not.
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Rattie is getting $650,000 this year, which should be a comfortable-enough salary for the Blues to pay him if he gets sent back to the minors–they’ve paid similar amounts to AHL players like Chris Butler and Magnus Paajarvi in recent years–but it’s just $75,000 more than the league minimum. Still, that salary is vastly superior to the $70,000 that Rattie made in the AHL last season (though he made the pro-rated portion of $832,500 while he was in the NHL).
Since all signs point to Vladimir Sobotka rejoining the Blues for the 2016-17 season, Rattie will be battling for a spot on the NHL roster even though he received a one-way deal. When Sobotka’s return becomes official, the Blues will have 14 forwards signed to one-way contracts, in addition to Robby Fabbri on a two-way deal, so someone among that group is going to be paid an NHL salary to play in the minors.
It’s most likely that Rattie will battle with Paajarvi for a job, though maybe as the Blues transition to more of a speed-oriented style of play, Ryan Reaves will face some competition. Reaves was a healthy scratch for 18 regular season games and another 15 playoff contests this past season, and he had just four points and a minus-6 rating. With that said, he’s set to make $1.125 million this season, so it still would be surprising to see him get beat out by Rattie or Paajarvi.