The hearing comes 11 days after Sobotka left the Blues to sign a three-year deal with Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. However, while Sobotka will be playing next season in Siberia, the Blues still own his rights at the NHL level.
In what has been an ugly divorce, Sobotka jumped ship to the KHL after Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong would not budge off of a one-year offer worth $2.7 million. Sobotka’s camp was asking for $3 million. According to a tweet from Jeremy Rutherford, Monday’s ruling confirmed Armstrong’s valuation of Sobotka.
While Sobotka’s deal in the KHL runs for three years, the Czech-born centre is already eyeing a return to the NHL after the 2014-2015 season.
While Sobotka may be having dreams of returning to the NHL with a new team, the harsh reality is that he still owes the Blues one year of service before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Sobotka played his hand when he ran to the KHL instead of taking a little less money in the short-term in order to fulfill his contractual obligation with the Blues. Now, instead of being able to pick where he wanted to go as a UFA after the 2014-2015 season, the Blues hold all of the cards.
The only way Sobotka will return to the NHL with a team other than St. Louis is if the Blues trade his rights. However, unless Armstrong is offered a deal he likes, he is under no pressure to do so.
“We are looking forward to having Vladimir in a Blues uniform when he returns to the NHL,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season.”
Until then, the Blues can wait out Sobotka as he begins a new chapter of his career in the comforting confines of Siberia.