Rumors have started to trickle out about the St. Louis Blues recent signing. The news is definitely good so far.
The St. Louis Blues might not have officially signed Mike Hoffman yet, but each passing moment seems to indicate they will. We already discussed the shrewd business nature of Doug Armstrong making this move, but with new info comes new problems and possibilities.
According to a recent video by The Hockey Guy, who does thorough research, and Jeremy Rutherford, the word going around is that the Blues have a handshake deal in place. It would be a one-year contract worth between $3.5 and $4.5 million.
While the lower end of that range would be unbelievable, the entire range of possible money fits in reasonably well with what the Blues need. Let’s look at the breakdown of the dollars and cents.
Alex Steen‘s final year of the contract was worth $5.75 million. Some fans might complain that was high, but it’s a great number right now for what the Blues need to do.
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If the Blues sign Hoffman for the highest end of that range, $4.5 million, the difference between Steen’s contract and Hoffman’s would be $1.25.
Guess what? The Blues are currently $1.176 over the salary cap, which is good and bad.
St. Louis cannot sign Hoffman until the start of the season to utilize the full value of Steen’s cap hit as part of Long Term Injured Reserve. So, while the math works out once Hoffman’s deal is signed, it does not prior.
However, the Blues don’t automatically have to send someone away for a late-round draft pick. The taxi squad could provide them some interesting relief.
Technically, the Blues could start the season with Carl Gunnarsson and, say, Zach Sanford on the taxi squad because the taxi squad does not count against your cap. You would then begin the year with Jake Walman and Klim Kostin on the roster.
Those are just example names too. You could do the same if you do Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo and start your opening roster with Walman and Niko Mikkola. However you make the math work, the Blues have to erase that $1.176 million for a long enough period to make the books work.
If I understand things correctly, this does not even have to include a game. The opening rosters are due January 12 and the first game is January 13.
It’s all very strange, but well within the rules. So, with my example, you would list Gunnarsson and Sanford on your taxi squad for the first roster and include Walman and Kostin.
Then, whenever you can make changes, you officially sign Hoffman, put Gunnarsson and Sanford back on the NHL roster and you can also sign Vince Dunn.
For those wondering why Dunn is not signed yet, there are two reasons. Restricted free agents do not HAVE to sign until February to be eligible for the playoffs. Also, the Blues can sign him immediately, but he’d have to start the year on the taxi squad to make the money work. So, the team is likely waiting on his deal until they have concrete plans in place for the LTIR.
The Dunn issue boils down to how much they offer him. If Dunn gets $1.25 million or less on his deal, the Blues are sitting pretty. That would fit in under the Steen LTIR allowance and Vladimir Tarasenko‘s money is completely free for if/when he returns.
If Dunn gets more than the $1.25 million per season, then they have to actually use part of Tarasenko’s relief to afford that. That’s fine until he comes off LTIR and is ready to play.
The Blues have to have $7.5 million of cap space available if they want to use Tarasenko during the season. Theoretically, the Blues could hold him off until the playoffs, the way the Chicago Blackhawks did with Patrick Kane a few years ago, because the salary cap no longer counts in the playoffs. That’s a whole different kettle of fish though.
The only problem Hoffman’s deal even potentially presents is having to clear out that $1.176 again if/when Tarasenko returns. There are players you could swap onto the taxi squad to make that work though.
For now, as long as the Blues move enough pieces around at the right time, $4.5 million or less is absolutely perfect for once the season begins and Steen’s money gets moved onto LTIR.
P.S. If any of this is not 100% correct, don’t kill me. Math has never been my strongest suit and it’s a confusing bit of book cooking, even if perfectly legal.