Beyond the Lockout: Contract Questions for 2013-14
The NHL lockout will eventually end. It may seem like this beast is here to stay but the reality is that the players and owners will eventually come to their senses and get back to business as usual. I won’t pretend that I can predict when the lockout will end but I will venture a guess and say that we will see some hockey in 2012-13 and 2013-14 will be played as scheduled. Once the lockout ends and the new CBA is in place, the Blues will have to start planning in a hurry as they have some huge free agency questions developing for 2013-14.
First, it’s important to note that the new CBA will have a big say in how the Blues approach free agency for 2013-14. It’s unclear what the cap will be and what sort of contract limits will be in place once the dust settles on the current lockout. Keeping that in mind, I won’t approach any specifics as they could change in a hurry with an adjusted CBA.
Here’s a tentative list of current Blues that will be either a restricted or unrestricted free agent for the 2013-14 season.
In summary, almost the entire St. Louis defense is set to be restricted a free agent in 2013-14.
There are some obvious answers to the questions above. Alex Pietrangelo will deserve an enormous contract. As to how much/how long, that might be determined by the new CBA. Regardless of contract details, the Blues will need to be ready to shell out some major cash to retain one of the best young defenseman in the NHL.
Kevin Shattenkirk is another player that the Blues will have to give a raise to if they hope to keep him. He may not be as familiar around the NHL as Pietrangelo but he has proven he is an exciting young talent.
There’s plenty of murky situations above as well. Will Langenbrunner call it quits after 2012-13? Will Andy McDonald want a multi-year deal or be content with a one-year deal? If there isn’t any hockey in 2012-13, how do you evaluate Patrik Berglund?
Perhaps the most sticky situation involves Berglund. The Blues signed him to a two-year, $4.5 million contract prior to 2011-12. The contract was a perfect one as it essentially kept Berglund in the mix at a fair price while giving the forward additional time to prove himself. The hope was that over his two-year deal the Blues would learn enough where they could then make an informed decision come 2013-14. Let’s hope hockey returns soon so the Blues have more to go off of than just Berglund’s 38-point 2011-12.
Chris Stewart is another player the Blues have to make yet another tough decision on. His one-year, $3 million contract prior to 2012-13 was supposed to be the “prove yourself” contract. If there’s no hockey, or perhaps a shortened season, how should the Blues evaluate Stewart?
At the very least, the St. Louis front office has had plenty of time to prepare for the situations ahead. Without actual hockey to distract them, they have had almost unlimited time to start figuring out who they want to bring back and what it might cost them.
Step 1 – Sign Alex Pietrangelo.