The Blues’ leading assist man is getting a payday.
With the attention being paid today to the Blues’ pending unrestricted free agents – we’re all on Dakota Joshua watch today – it was a pleasant surprise for fans to wake up this morning and see discussion about a contract extension for one of the Blues’ breakout players.
Robert Thomas’ skill set has been considered elite for a while. His playmaking ability was key to much of the Blues’ regular season success this season, and his 57 assists this year was good for 19th in the NHL. Thanks to his placement on a line with Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko, Thomas’ numbers were excellent, and clearly Doug Armstrong believes that they will stay that way regardless of who is on his line.
Frank Seravalli scooped Twitter this morning by releasing the terms of Robert Thomas’ new deal.
Hearing #stlblues and forward Robert Thomas are closing in on a long-term extension. Expecting him to land in the neighborhood of 8 years, $64 million when it’s all done.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 13, 2022
That’s a max-term contract that goes into effect for the 2023-2024 season; without this signing, Thomas would be an RFA. Eight years at $8 million per year is a huge raise for Thomas, whose last contract was a two-year bridge deal worth $2.8 million per for this season and last. Thomas’ production was a bargain at $2.8 million. Depending on how much the NHL raises the salary cap next season, his $8 million price tag may also be a bargain.
Doug Amstrong has a track record of paying players well after standout seasons, occasionally creating a cap crunch as those deals wind down. However, Armstrong has either been able to get those contracts off of the books in trades (Patrik Berglund, for example) or players like Alexander Steen have been able to gracefully transition into key support roles.
Thomas getting locked up means that all eyes are on Armstrong getting deals done for Jordan Kyrou and Ryan O’Reilly – and on the unfortunate matter of what happens to Vladimir Tarasenko during or after this season.