Jeremy Rutherford reports that the St. Louis Blues and Jaden Schwartz are still pretty far apart in their contract negotiations. This has been the case for the better part of the last few months, but now the heat is on to get a deal done in time for training camp.
Rutherford’s report, seen here, details that talks are continuing but the focus has shifted from a long-term extension to a bridge contract.
Wade Arnott, Schwartz’s agent, commented on the situation:
“Right now we’re focusing our efforts on a shorter-term contract. The Blues have sort of directed the conversation there. It’s their preference on that front, I think, for a couple of reasons. I assume their salary-cap situation is one. If you look at it, I’m not sure they can go longer term at a big number right now.
Traditionally, a lot of these players who have played this limited amount of games have sort of gravitated towards these bridge contracts to get to the next level. We’re not opposed to that concept, we just have to come to a meeting of the minds here on what the value is for that type of concept.”
No numbers or speculated numbers have been released, but it sounds like the Blues are coming in with a much smaller offer than Schwartz and his agent are willing to accept. With the Vladimir Sobotka situation fresh and still stinging, the Blues can’t afford to lose Schwartz for two very important reasons.
1. Even with their added talent, the Blues would dearly miss Schwartz. They should be fine moving on without Sobotka, but to lose both men in a summer would be costly to the product on the ice. Schwartz is a rising talent and he still has some room to grow before he hits his ceiling. Letting him walk may not hurt too bad now, but it’d prove costly as Schwartz’s game improves.
2. The Blues don’t want to develop the reputation of an organization who won’t pay its players. You could make a strong case that the Blues already have a cheap reputation thanks to the old ownership and their refusal to sign expensive options, but losing two high-profile players in a summer may raise concerns for other players and free agents who may sign deals with the Blues in the future.