The St. Louis Blues have announced six contracts, including a new one for restricted free agent Scott Perunovich. The 23-year-old defenseman has agreed to a one-year, one-way contract for next season.
The team has also signed Josh Leivo to a one-year, one-way contract, while Anthony Angello, Matthew Highmore, and Dylan McLaughlin are all coming aboard on one-year, two-way contracts. Nathan Walker has agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2023-24.
Perunovich will be earning just $750K according to Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest, a number that leaves a lot of room for surplus value. The young defenseman has shown top-four NHL ability but hasn’t been able to stay healthy long enough to establish himself as a full-time option. Since signing in 2020, he has just 43 games of professional experience. Seven of those came this spring in the playoffs for St. Louis, where he recorded four points despite averaging fewer than 11 minutes a game. That’s the kind of offensive upside he brings, able to contribute even in a limited role.
With no arbitration rights, there wasn’t much leverage that Perunovich had at this point. The fact that he is still waiver-exempt also likely played into the negotiation, as his qualifying offer would have come with a higher salary ($874K) but would have been two-way, giving him much less if he ends up in the AHL. Agreeing to the one-way deal guarantees him the $750K and likely helps him stay in the NHL, as he’ll carry a lower cap hit for the Blues to navigate.
Leivo, meanwhile is coming in on a $750K contract according to John Matisz of theScore, after leading the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup this year. The 29-year-old forward had seemingly established himself as an NHL regular before 2021-22 but ended up in the AHL and made the most of it. With 29 points in 18 playoff games, Leivo was named playoff MVP and now has another chance to show he is too good for the minor leagues. In 214 NHL games, he has 38 goals and 77 points.
Walker actually played in 30 games for the Blues this season, easily the longest NHL stint of his career. He even had eight goals and 12 points during that time and dressed in four playoff games. While he won’t be making a huge impact, extending him now suggests he’s a valued part of the organization that the team doesn’t want to see hit free agency next summer.