Free agency is now just a few weeks away and many teams are already looking ahead to when it opens up. There will be several prominent players set to hit the open market in late July while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign as well. The big focus in St. Louis is on a disgruntled sniper, but there are other issues to worry about as well.
Key Restricted Free Agents
F Robert Thomas – The discussion of RFAs, which is a long one in St. Louis, should start with Thomas, the 22-year-old center who showed real promise before a brutal 2020-21. In his first two NHL seasons, Thomas recorded 19 goals and 75 points in 136 games; those numbers dropped to just three goals and 12 points in 33 games this season. That’s a big step backward for the 2017 first-round pick, but it certainly doesn’t mean the Blues are giving up on him. In fact, it actually might help them in contract negotiations, at least if they’re willing to do a short-term deal. Thomas likely won’t want to lock into a long contract after such a poor offensive showing, meaning there’s even a chance that he could sign his qualifying offer and bet on himself in 2021-22. Just one year away from being arbitration-eligible, a big showing next season could set him up for a huge payday a year from now.
F Jordan Kyrou – Despite being in the same situation in terms of arbitration eligibility, Kyrou comes into this summer with very different leverage. The 23-year-old broke out this season with 14 goals and 35 points in 55 games, becoming one of the team’s most reliable offensive weapons. In fact, given his production came in limited minutes—Kyrou scored all 14 of his goals at even-strength despite averaging just over 13 minutes a night—there’s actually a good bet his scoring totals get a significant bump next season if moved full-time into the top-six (something that seems likely with the expected departure of Vladimir Tarasenko). His camp and the Blues will both know that, meaning a multi-year deal right now is probably the best bet for both sides, even if it does come with a healthy raise.