He's back: Vladimir Sobotka to rejoin Blues

AP Photo

If you’re thinking you’ve heard this name before, it’s because you absolutely have­-and not all too long ago.

After stealing headlines over the summer as he duped Blues GM Doug Armstrong into thinking he was rejoining the team for the 2016-2017 season, Vladimir Sobotka will finally make his return to St. Louis. Sobotka played for the Blues from 2010 to 2014; rather than accept the decision of an arbiter that his NHL salary be $2.725 million with the Blues for 2014-2015, Sobotka left for a better financial opportunity, playing for Omsk Avangard of the KHL.

With his KHL contract set to end on April 30th, Sobotka’s deal was terminated early, and he will now rejoin the Blues for the last of the regular season, as well as the postseason. The Blues signed him to a three-year contract worth $10.5 million. Sobotka, whose No. 17 is now occupied by Jaden Schwartz, will wear No. 71 and will join the Blues for the playoff push, beginning with their game in Carolina on Saturday.

The timing of his release from Avangard is opportune for St. Louis, because the team has been lacking forward depth up the middle lately, with Paul Stastny out of action since late March. He remains week-to-week.

Sobotka is playing out the remainder of his arbitration awarded contract with the Blues for this season, worth $2.725 million over a full season, and then his new deal begins July 1st. The breakdown of Sobotka’s new contract is $4 million, $3.5 million, and $3million from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 for an average annual value of $3.5 million.

According to Doug Armstrong, the past is over, and there will be no hard feelings toward Sobotka as the sides renew their relationship.

“At the end of the day, what we tried to do with Vladi is have an understanding that he made a business decision and I respected that,” Armstrong told Chris Kerber in a video posted to the Blues website. “We tried to keep an open line of communication with each other and I think that paid off in the end that nobody said anything that was damaging for the long-term relationship.”

Armstrong says the players on the Blues are excited to have him back in the fold. The coaching staff has changed since Sobotka was last with the team so he will meet with Armstrong and Blues head coach Mike Yeo Friday morning to begin his integration to the roster, which has also seen some turnover since Sobotka’s last appearance with St. Louis.

The Blues could benefit from Sobotka’s offensive contributions as they prepare for the playoffs later this month. Sobotka had 33 points in 61 games in his last season with St. Louis. This season with Avangard, he had 30 points in 41 games. He has 29 goals for 101 points in 247 games for his Blues career.

“I‘m looking forward to seeing him coming back to see how his game has evolved,” Armstrong said, “But if we just get the exact same player back that left, that’s a player that’s getting almost half a point a game and plays with a little bit of a snarl. I think the game has evolved too, where it’s to his style of play.”

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