The Vladimir Sobotka signing was an unexpected, surprising move. Instead of months of rumors involving Sobotka, the 29-year-old center’s name popped in a few rumors one day and was signed to a three-year extension just a couple days later. With Sobotka back in the mix, there’s suddenly a bunch of players fighting over the same roster spots.
When it comes to centers, the Blues now have plenty of options. Most of those options may fall into the bottom-six category as opposed to the top-six category, but that’s not exactly a new problem. What is a new problem is the sheer volume of players who can line up at center who are under contract for 2017-18.
Jeremy Rutherford spoke about this exact situation when one Blues fan noted that there are a bunch of guys under contract for 2017-18 who all appear to be fighting for similar roles.
“Something’s going to happen. I agree you’ve that the roster is a bit crowded with guys who could all be fighting for the same spots. Barbashev might end up being a guy that plays up the lineup and Berglund can too, but a lot of those other guys are third liners. Now it helps certainly to be versatile and a number of those guys can play center and wing. But I think we all know where they play best and that doesn’t set up well for what you’d draw up as some good-looking lines. I think it’s pretty understood that there’s going to be some moving and shaking in the summer.”
In other words, something has to give. With the upcoming expansion draft looming, the Vegas Golden Knights could assist by taking once center off the Blues’ hands. It’d be wonderful to hear Lehtera’s name called, but fans probably aren’t that lucky. Beyond that, a trade may have to be made in order to free up playing time for the younger players who have emerged in 2016-17.