The Blues made some important decisions regarding restricted free agents on Monday.
With Monday being the deadline for NHL clubs to extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents, the St. Louis Blues were faced with the task of making decisions on the futures of several players. They signed center Wade Megan, who was set to be an RFA, to a one-year, two-way contract, and extended qualifying offers to forwards Magnus Paajarvi and Oskar Sundqvist (who was acquired from the Penguins in Friday night’s Ryan Reaves trade), defensemen Petteri Lindbohm and Colton Parayko, and goalie Jordan Binnington. The Blues will now begin the process of trying to work out contracts with those players for the coming season.
The 26-year-old Megan finally broke through and made his NHL debut for the Blues in 2016-17 after spending four seasons in the AHL for the Florida Panthers organization. He had one goal with a plus-1 rating in three games for the Blues, and he also led the AHL with 33 goals, posting a total of 66 points, which tied for fourth-most in the league.
While the Blues will have better forward depth in 2017-18, with young guys like Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford now having earned the opportunity to push for full-time NHL roles and players such as Sundqvist, Samuel Blais, and Tage Thompson likely to provide depth, Megan could still be a valuable spare part, especially since he can play center.
None of the news regarding the players who were tendered contracts for next season was exceptionally surprising, though it will be interesting to see what the Blues do with the 23-year-old Binnington. Since the Blues won’t have a primary AHL affiliate in 2017-18, they’ll be sharing the Chicago Wolves with the Vegas Golden Knights, and Vegas is likely to assign goalie Jean-Francois Berube (who they just selected in the expansion draft) to Chicago.
That means the Blues will have trouble getting regular playing time for one goalie–let alone two–and 22-year-old Ville Husso has now clearly moved into the No. 3 spot on the Blues’ goalie depth chart. Binnington can’t be assigned to the ECHL anymore since he’s no longer on an entry-level contract, so he’ll likely either end up as the third-stringer on the Wolves, or–if the Blues are lucky–loaned to another AHL club that’s in need of a goaltender.