Vladimir Sobotka Reportedly Spurns St. Louis Blues, Returns to KHL’s Avangard Omsk


For the third straight season, the Blues will be without Vladimir Sobotka as he stays in the KHL.

From the time that the 2015-16 season ended, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong’s public stance was that he expected forward Vladimir Sobotka to return to the NHL for the 2016-17 campaign. Sobotka spent the past two seasons in the KHL after engaging in a contract dispute with the Blues.

Let’s hope the Blues were prepared to play without him. The KHL announced on Tuesday morning that Sobotka will return to Avangard Omsk (with a rather mafioso tweet, considering that Sobotka personally told reporters earlier this month that he wanted to return to the Blues):

The Blues have yet to confirm the news, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford tweeted that the team is still waiting to hear from Sobotka and his agent.

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For what it’s worth, when the Blues assigned forward Glenn Gawdin to his junior team on Tuesday, they wrote that the training camp roster stood at 56, a number that accounts for Sobotka.

Sobotka owes the Blues a year of service at $2.7 million, though it’s debatable after Tuesday’s news whether the Blues will continue to deal with the continued uncertainty that apparently comes with him. It’s not as if he’s ever been a massive difference-maker; his career highs in games played, goals, and assists are 73, nine, and 24, respectively. Blues color commentator Darren Pang tweeted that the buyout for Sobotka’s KHL contract would be two-thirds of his $4 million-dollar salary, so he basically would have been playing for free had he decided to opt out and return to the NHL.

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With him out of the picture, the Blues will presumably select two players among Kenny Agostino, T.J. Galiardi, Eric Nystrom, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris Porter, and Ty Rattie to fill the bottom two spots among their 14 forwards. Dmitrij Jaskin will likely get more opportunities to play among the top-nine forwards in Sobotka’s absence.