Putting MacEachern on waivers
As mentioned, the Blues don’t have a bunch of cap space. Though Thomas is in a take it or leave it scenario, it simply does not seem likely the Blues would offer him a $750,000 contract just because they can.
However, an interesting option could be on the table. That option involves Mackenzie MacEachern.
MacEachern currently has a cap hit of $900,000. If you clear that off the books, you have almost $1.7 million in cap space available.
MacEachern isn’t likely to fetch much on the trade market, though you could trade him just for the money. Or, the Blues could keep him for organizational depth and put him on waivers after training camp, with the intention to send him to the AHL.
You risk a team claiming MacEachern for nothing if he goes on waivers, but there are rarely any claims on players out of training camp. It happens rarely and it’s not against the rules, but most teams don’t do that right off the bat.
MacEachern only played in 21 games in 2020-21 and many of those were due to injuries elsewhere in the lineup. He regularly played fewer than 10 minutes per game and finished the year with a goal and two points. It is not as though he would be a hot commodity if the Blues tried to slip him through waivers.
Still, the reason you don’t try to trade him yet is because he knows how to play Blues hockey. He’s a valuable depth piece if you have fourth line injuries and he is willing to throw the body. In 21 games and limited minutes, he still managed 35 hits this past season.
2021 showed how quickly the Blues can go from contender to pretender just from having injured players. Unless the draft pick would be that important to the organization, you try to keep MacEachern, but move his money off the cap.
This would allow you to give Thomas around a $1.5 million contract, preserve a couple hundred thousand in space and keep all the integral parts.