Why not return to the place where you won it all? Tyler Bozak has re-signed with the St. Louis Blues, inking a one-year contract. The deal is worth a base salary of $750K but also includes performance bonuses. Those bonuses, based on games played and playoff success, can increase Bozak’s salary to $2MM, according to Andy Strickland of Bally Sports Midwest.
Bozak, 35, was actually listed 35th on our list of the Top 50 UFAs, where we predicted he would sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal. It seemed likely, given the dearth of real center options available, that Bozak would be able to secure more than the league minimum for his base salary. Perhaps he could have, had he not returned to St. Louis, where the Blues are currently tapped out when it comes to the salary cap ceiling. The team is pushing right up against the upper limit but still has Robert Thomas to sign, which will put them over for the start of the season.
Oskar Sundqvist will likely open the year on long-term injured reserve, opening some cap flexibility and a lineup spot for Bozak, who is coming in on a very reasonable deal. Though his bonuses will likely bring him higher than the league minimum of $750K, those can actually be carried to next season’s cap as an overage if necessary. His very low base salary gives the Blues as much flexibility as possible, not to mention brings back a valuable veteran centerman.
Bozak may not be the player that recorded 55 points in 2016-17, but he’s still one of the best faceoff men in the league, winning 56.8% of his draws last season. He will offer the team excellent depth down the middle as they look to rebound from a disappointing 2020-21, where they were pummeled by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs. With new faces like Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad adding a new dimension to the forward group, the team has built quite the diverse lineup. Adding Bozak for a smaller cap hit (initially) than Kyle Clifford and Mackenzie MacEachern only helps things.