Blues’ blunder likely ends possibility of trade with Edmonton

Remember all of those optimistic columns about a potential trade between Edmonton and St. Louis for the No. 2/3 centre the Oilers would love to add?

There was a complication on Thursday, as the Blues lost the excellent Vladimir Sobotka to the KHL, potentially for the next three seasons.

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Sobotka was an outstanding centre.

At even-strength, he was capable of playing tough minutes, and despite that consistently outpaced his team in terms of out-shooting the opposition. He wasn’t just an excellent five-on-five player; he played in all situations, including both special teams.

Just 5’10”, the solidly-built (197 pound) pivot was a consistent physical presence. We’ve talked about him as a two-way threat and he was in the truest sense – he posted 33 points in 61 games last season, which is a pretty decent number for a supporting player.

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He was also the best faceoff man in the NHL last season, winning 61.9 percent of his draws.

The Blues

General manager Doug Armstrong tacitly criticized Sobotka’s willingness to consider a KHL offer, and implied that the Blues’ refusal to meet his demands had some higher principle at its heart.

“The League goes on. No one person can be more important than the fabric of the CBA,” Armstrong was quoted as saying by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.

Yeah, right.

The reality is that the Blues got greedy. That same Wyshynski piece hits the highlights; St. Louis paid Sobotka just $1.3 million per year over the last three seasons, making him one of the very best bargains in the NHL. Despite that, the best offer cited in the piece was a two-year deal with a $3.0 million cap hit.

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So when Avangard Omsk came calling with a three-year deal that included out-clauses after every season and a $4.0 million salary (did we mention the tax situation in Russia is better than in St. Louis) this was a no-brainer:

Sobotka did nothing wrong. The Blues played hardball and took him to arbitration, so rather than submit to the team’s demands he looked at other options. He wasn’t under contract, so he was perfectly within his rights to consider playing in another league, and he certainly didn’t threaten the “fabric of the CBA.”

The Oilers

Craig MacTavish9

One imagines the Oilers would have been pretty open to Sobotka, who despite being on the small side has a well-deserved reputation as fierce competitor. The Blues certainly would have been better off trading Sobotka’s rights, once it became clear that the 27-year-old was going to investigate other options. Either the Blues didn’t know he was or they decided to ignore the possibility; either way, it was a blunder that cost them the loss of an excellent player for nothing.

That bad news isn’t just that Edmonton doesn’t have a shot at Sobotka now, but also that this makes it more difficult for the Blues to deal a centre. Sure, they signed Steve Ott, who turns 32 next month; he’s another combative, undersized pivot but he’s at the wrong end of his career curve and was awfully ineffective both in Buffalo and St. Louis last season. He’s much more of a gamble than Sobotka, and with the heightened risk comes the increased probability that the Blues would be reluctant to deal one of their other centremen.

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There aren’t a lot of teams out there who might be willing to deal a centre; this doesn’t help.


  • vetinari

    I wasn’t sold that MacT was going to go to the Blues for help anyways. Too bad for the Blues, they may end up being one of those teams that came close but never quite got there. I don’t like their goaltending, dealing Halak was a blunder if you ask me. Defense is solid, but I bet Oilers are a Cup threat before the Blues win get to the conference final again.

    • Young Oil

      How was Halak a blunder, the guy had one great run 4 years ago yaaaaaay. He had three chances to be a starter come playoff time but always “got hurt” not to mention he had worse numbers than Elliot in all three seasons.

  • vetinari

    I wonder if the long view isn’t the way to play this– offer the Blues something relatively minor (mid round pick and/or mid level prospect), try to get Sobotka’s rights and look at bringing him aboard next year in a 2C/3C role, depending on Draisaitl’s development? If you can’t lure him back or if Draisaitl develops as expected, then see if you can flip his rights again?

    • vetinari

      Sobotka is a UFA next summer (in NHL terms). The Oilers don’t have to trade St. Louis anything to have a shot at him next summer, but several NHL teams will be bidding.

        • Dwayne Roloson 35

          The NHL CBA has unrestricted free agency at 27. Sobotka will be 27 next July 1. In fact, he is 27 today, missing UFA status by just 2 days this summer.

          • Dwayne Roloson 35

            Okay. St. Louis filed for arbitration, and if Sobotka skips on arbitration (which means that he is under contract) that means they can toll the contract.

            Me bad.

          • v4ance

            St. Louis sent a qualifying offer to Sobotka before July 1st before taking him to arbitration.

            With that qualifying offer, St. Louis will retain Sobotka’s rights for at least one more NHL season, IF he decides to come back.

            This was all in Wyshynski’s article that Willis referred to in this blog post.

          • Dwayne Roloson 35

            He was tendered a qualifying offer first meaning they will still have his rights, the blues are also taking him to arbitration which means that he has to play for them when he returns for that year so no he is not a UFA when he returns


    The most realistic team to trade with was the Isles. I’d take one of Neilson, Nelson, Bailey, or Lee in that order. Granted for different price tags.

    Isles got 8 possible centers this year, they got to be looking to get of one. Never thought St. Louis would get rid of Berglund anyways.


    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      they’d probably try to peddle Josh Bailey, who’s had a few OK years, but hasn’t scored more than 38 points in a season….kind of a sideways move when you consider that Gagner has had several slightly more productive seasons, unless the Oilers figure that Bailey at 24 still has yet to reach his full potential and might flourish as a 2nd line center here?

  • ubermiguel

    Damn it! We’re used to our own management hurting the team by pissing off our own players but now other teams are hurting us by pissing off their own players.

    • MacTastic

      Indeed, and I still prefer this scenario.

      As I recall, it wasn’t long ago when it was Oilers management regularly shooting the team in the foot. Glad to know we’re not the cash-strapped, short-sighted managers any more. Or at the very least, that there are other teams making similar goof-ups.

      Beware Eakins. You destroy Yakupov, and you shall not be forgiven.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I can’t stand the “Eakins destroying Yakupov” talk. He is a teenager playing a man’s game and he look like a teenager playing a man’s game. He is on record saying “skating all the time and back checking and hitting people isn’t my game,”

        Ummmm…. What?

        This is the NHL. If he doesn’t want to play real hockey and wants to bolt to the KHL because he has to work too hard, then he is simply a spoiled brat.

        Eakins is giving him the tools he needs to be a great player. If Yak doesn’t want them or doesn’t want to listen, then so be it. Brat.

        • kab

          That’s my take on him too. This whole “I like to score goals is the hockey I like to play” bit came off as a spoiled kid that was never told NO by his Mom. Then the veiled threat from the agent that KHL teams are interested. Maybe in junior team was spelled with an I in it somewhere but not in the big show. Good player – yes, great player – we’ll see. He can’t skate around everyone on the ice like juniors cause the players are just better. Gonna have to learn a team game soon

  • BlazingSaitls

    The last thing Oilers need is another player in the organization that see’s KHL as a real option. So Im glad that trade never got made. Eakins has a way a making those types yearn for Russian and their Gulag of a league. Good riddens, enjoy the Vodka Sobotka

  • ubermiguel

    Head scratcher for sure. Left me puzzled this morning when I heard the news. Knew for certain that any trade talk about Berglund just flew out on a plane to Omsk.

    The Blues just got weaker with the loss and will be looking to move someone up to wing because Berglund will now be at center for sure next season.

    Is Sobtoka worth 4 m to the Oilers? I’d say no.

    I think MacT looks inward rather than outward for his center. Arco has been given a golden opportunity. Hope he knows that.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      I think either Sobodka (or Berglund) at ~ 4M per year for the next 2 years would be a great fit for the Oil. With ~9M of space & only Schultz left to sign. Either, they pick up some salary somewhere (hopefully as a center) or they go with the current group and may have several million unspent. How would that improve the team?

      Even if its an overpay for someone to give some better depth at center for a couple of year, when hopefully LD can compete and RNH looks more like a true C1, I don’t see much downside.

      Unless of course you are the Kmans accountant

  • Randaman

    I hate to think of this happening to us but if Eakins doesn’t swallow some pride and work with Yak better and use him better we could be facing this exact situation next year. Just sayin and if you don’t think it could happen you had better pull your head out of the sand.

    • kab

      I don’t believe it’s about Eakins swallowing some pride, I think it more along the lines of Yak learning to play a TEAM game, with TEAM-mates and not trying to want to do it all on his own (look at me I am FANTASTIC) – which he can’t. If this young man refuses to play within the system then a quick goodbye wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

      • Randaman

        This is why I am in the trade him camp. Murray should have been the pick anyway. Thanks Daryl. Yak along with Petry should bring a quality #2C. Maybe O’Reily? You can’t expect to get quality for crap. Wake up people

  • Randaman

    The Islanders have Tavares, Strome, Grabovski, Bailey, Nielsen and Brock Nelson. They are also in dire need of a defenseman. Would Petry get us Bailey? Of course, if the Oilers trade Petry, then our defense sucks again. There’s no easy solution for that 2C spot.


      Trading Petry does open a hole, but he could also walk away at the end of next season.

      If a deal involving Petry brings in a legit #2 with some size you have to do that deal. Better to use his value now than lose it in a year for nothing.

      Even bringing in a guy like Derek Morris to fill Petry’s spot is preferrable to starting the year with Draisaitl, Arco and Lander vying for the 2C and 3C spots.

      Like last year, it would be over before it started.

    • Dan 1919

      Lol, “sucks again.” You must of watched different games than I did, the Oilers defense sucked all year last year even when Petry was there.

      Petry at best brings mediocre offensive upside and playmaking ability. I do not believe anyone ever said he was actually good defensively, because he’s not; he’s actual a liability in his own zone.

      Now that Petry has overvalued himself and refused to sign MacT’s multi year deal, trade him for anything you can get before he leaves for free agency. If we didn’t want to overpay for him this year, we certainly won’t next year when he’s open up to the UFA offers.

      • Craig1981

        lots of players sign months or days before they head to UFA land. I’m not sure he stays, but I am not sure he goes.

        And I wouldn’t say he overvalues himself, he is just confident he can have a solid season, I don’t mind that.

          • Craig1981

            I would try and wait till trade deadline for Petry. You know more where Musil, Simpson, Kelbom, Nurse, and Marcin are. You also can factor in where you are in the playoff race. If you have a viable replacement and he doesn’t fit or you can’t get a contract done you trade him (as long as you don’t need him for the playoff race). No sense rushing, and many good teams lose player for nothing.

  • kab

    Pretty tough to get upset over a longshot hypothetical anyway. I mean really, wasn’t this all just, “wow he’d be a nice addition” kind of talk? It’s pretty unusual for teams to trade established talent like that. Heck, even the teams up against or over the cap do not seem to be trading their main guys to get under the cap, so what hope does a team whos trying to compete for the cup have a t trading one of their main guys?

    Any of the last three years, and everyone would be just fine with Draisaitl coming up to the big team. Second, how many of us were mad when Arco was replaced by Gagner on the second line?

    I really think all this reaction has to do with all the fans thinking last year was finally going to be the year the team turned around. And now that it hasn’t we fell back into a we need Weber and Hossa or this team will always be bad mentality.

    Better goal tending, better coaching, more maturity from a non rookie coach, the same coach for more than one season, and more actual NHL players throughout the line up. Thos early losses were bad, but I still remember the score being like 5-4, 6-5, ect. Translation, the Oilers are not as bad as we all thought they were, and they are much better now than last year.

    • Have you been living under a rock? You do know that this exact team that you are talking about basically gave us Perron because they had cap issues. Make no bones about it there are good players who are currently on the trade block because of cap issues with their respective teams

      • kab

        I am hoping like hell Mac T can pull off another Perron style trade. Perron’s cap hit though was 3 + for a winger who struggled to stay in the top 6 with the Blues. Perron got 25 points in the lock out season, and up and down seasons before that. Not to mention a history with concussion and injury concerns. Edmonton gave up Magnus who at the time was seen as a legitimate talent to be developed.

        Perron was not a main guy for the Blues in the same way Berglund is, or the same way other cap teams centre’s are. Not to mention, all the centres the Oilers would likely covet, do not have that much of a cap hit, so really the teams would just be trading them away for nothing.

        Philly for example is dying to get rid of Lecaviallier, who likely would not waive his no trade to come here. And if Edmonton isn’t going to sign Legwand, then why the heck would they sign Lecavallier? After that, I doubt they trade Giroux. So that leaves Braydon Schenn and Coturier. Schenn’s hit is only 2.5 and Coturier is even less. It would not help the Flyers much to trade those guys.

        And that’s all I’m saying is that the core guys on the cap teams, are likely not going anywhere. There was a great article where the just was Mac T is probably going to stay true to form and make a trade that is on no one’s radar.

  • Randaman

    I honestly love Arcobello he’s a guy that brings it all to the table and will do some dirty work even though he isn’t very big and didn’t look out of place on that second line last year. I would almost be comfortable with him starting there this year. Almost. If It comes down to that I’ll be routing him on. Love a little guy that plays big.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Only have 3 mill in cap room with Schwartz left to sign. They could steal deal a centre as they have about 5 -6 players that can play the position. They may want some cap flexibility for trade deadline too.

    2nd rounder + 3rd rounder + prospect for Berglund

    Or look to Ryan O’Reilly which could cost Eberle or Perron or Yakupov

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Willis : at 2:53 p.m. says he has not gone to KHL as yet . St.Louis taking contract to arbitration . Might he not be best to wait for arbitration amount first before jumping to KHL ? Earlier TSN reported he has gone (about 11:00 A.M.) to KHL. Which one is right ?

  • oilredemption

    Pretty simple i’d say. St.louis can’t afford him this year with the cap where it’s at so they decided to take another root and let him earn a big pay cheque in Russia for him to come back next year when the cap rises. Almost guarantee that’s Armstrongs motive.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Oilers won’t and can’t fix all their problems in 1 year. If a C is available and it is worthwhile you trade for him if not, you hold tight and wait. Oilers once again are not a playoff team.

    Seems like any shiny toy and everyone wants one. Patience

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers would then have 3 centers whose lunch money will be stolen from them on a regular basis. RNH and Draisaitl will both be pushed around this coming season. 5’10” Sobotka won’t help this situation either.

    We’ve all seen the quickness/explosiveness of Nail Yakupov. He has plenty and he certainly has struggled (orchestrated by Eakins ofcourse) How is Leon and his lack of mobility/quickness issues going to pass the I’m ready for the NHL test next season? This is a fundamental reason to send him back to PA. Even more of a reason than sending Nurse back.

    Unleash the 6’5″ 200+lbs Ginger…..Bogdan Yakimov. Bigger, stronger and faster, along with being a year older. He deserves a longer look than Leon. Maybe Bogdan can do everything Couturier could do for this team and more.

    • v4ance

      I am really hoping Yakimov becomes our guy on the third line C, or even Jujhar, but I really can’t see how brining in a KHL player to be our second line C is going to be an upgrade from promoting a top draft WHL player.

      I think Arco, just like he did this year, is going to surprise everyone. Or who knows, maybe Lander finally translates his game to the NHL?

      Not ideal I know but I am excited at how Draisaitl, Jujhar, and Yakimov develop.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      O’Reilly is a smurf, even shorter than the totally unacceptable Sam Bennett. A rendonkulous overpayment for a 2/3 line center. He’s in 10′ pole territory now.

      Calgary should be forced to take on that monster they’ve created. Trade him there. The Dustin Penner contract reincarnated.

      • Craig1981

        He is listed at 6 foot and 200lbs….And had 28 goals last year at 23 years old. He “fits” on an NHL contending team. His contract is larger and the ask might be high as well. Regardless he helps a team.

        BTW why change your user name. You have worked so hard to gain a legacy here as QSB, and even though your trolling becomes a little much some time, you do have good points when you’re not forcing the issue

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          And he led the NHL in take aways. Colorado won’t let him go except for a ridiculous overpayment. He will make 5.5+.

          I think you can dream all you want but Colorado ate big dollars the last 2 years and let Stastny walk for free for him. Arbitration does not mean anything is wrong in terms of relationship, its just part of tbe negotiating process. Reilly has Colorado over a barrel, and has huge leverage. Basicly they pay him or he walks. I predict a 5.5×8 year deal at least.

    • Randaman

      Don’t mean to be rude but do you actually watch hockey?? Joe Sakic is not stupid enough to even consider that type of return for a Selke finalist. Eberle or Yak + Petry might though. Too bad Omark is gone, I’m sure Joe would jump at that. LOL

  • Randaman

    Kinda funny how we have nothing but high end wingers, 1 center, no defence and 2 goalies who haven’t played a full season combined after 5 years of rebuilding. Doesn’t that go against every single philosophy of how to build a team?

  • The Last Big Bear

    I still find it odd that Edmonton let Horak walk.

    A two-way centre, had already proven himself as a 3rd line checking centre in the Big Show with 82 NHL games under his belt by age 21. He showed consistent year-on-year offensive improvement, producing at a hair under a point-per-game in the AHL last year and finishing as one of the top scorers in OKC despite playing in only 50-ish games.

    I know most Oilers fans never really saw him, except maybe a few games when he was Calgary’s 3C, so I’m not surprised that the fan base didn’t really react when he walked to the KHL.

    But the kid is a quality young prospect in a position of dire need for the team, and I’m pretty surprised they let him slip through their fingers like that. Especially after giving up Smid to get him.

    But to be honest, everything about that whole Smid trade was bizarre altogether.

      • The Last Big Bear

        Uh huh.

        And Ak-Bars Kazan owns Taylor Hall’s KHL rights.

        Owning Horak’s NHL rights is going to be about as useful to the Oilers as Hall’s rights will be to Ak-Bars.

        The player has no contract with the club, and has chosen to sign a contract with a different team, in a different league.

        He’s gone.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Of course they don’t.

            That’s why we’re in a thread about a non-trade, that was never even actually rumored, to move assets the Oilers cant afford, and the other team doesn’t need, for a depth centre who just signed in the KHL.

            Because the Oilers are just THAT stacked at centre ice.

        • Craig1981

          OK, major differences.

          -Taylor Hall is playing in his home country.
          -Roman Horak’s will be playing for a Russian club, he isn’t at home playing in the KHL (he is Czech)

          -Taylor Hall is playing in the bast league in the world
          – Roman Horak, is not

          -Taylor Hall is playing in the same country he played is junior hockey in
          -Roman Horak is not. He played in the WHL (presume he must have some interest in NA)

          -Taylor Hall ha never played for a club league in an KHL country
          -Roman Horak has played the last 5 years in North America.

          I’m not sure Roman Horak comes back, but I do know for sure you don’t know he won’t. There are many players that have returned to the NHL and he did only sign a one way contract. Below is an interesting read on why many players come back.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Yes, I am aware of those factors, and you are correct on all counts.

            All of which just further emphasize my point, that it is highly unusual that the Oilers couldn’t or didn’t sign the kid.

  • It’s always entertaining when the same trade proposal generates both “ridiculous overpayment” and “you’re gonna need way more than that” comments.

    I side closer to the “more than that” side. Nurse and Schultz have pretty significant value. Maybe the 2015 2nd needs to be a 2016 1st and you might need to add another asset like a Musil/Gernat/Simpson on top of Lander/Arcobello, but that package seems fair if Colorado is looking to keep salary down.

    • kab

      So, if you were Colorado, you would trade O’Reilly who is an all round center scoring much higher than any current Oiler center for Musil ( who sounds less and less like an NHL player), Lander ( who may turn into a 3rd liner) and a pick? And, then watch this player kill you for 10 years?

  • Most of the teams in our conference have 6-10 Centers on their rosters , while we have currently 3 listed . Most teams are seemingly using centers as wingers as well . We do have many in system , however . Most upper teams are loaded on RW as compared to LW . We seem to be more left orientated . Any correlation here we should be aware of ?

    • OilPain

      10 centres on one team? What have you been smoking? There’s only 14 spots (usually, depending on how many forwards and d-men are kept on the roster). There is no way that a team would have so few natural wingers. Go to rehab. You’re a mess.

      • OilPain

        The info comes from under each teams current rosters . Check it out for yourself , as that’s what listed . Then maybe you could make a better reply based on that information .