There were reports during the 2015 off-season that Vladimir Sobotka would opt out of his KHL contract with Avangard Omsk to return to the St. Louis Blues, but instead the 28-year-old center chose to play at least one more season in Russia. His time with Omsk could be coming to an end this off-season, however.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Sobotka has a one-month window each June in order to opt out of his deal with Avangard, and “all indications” point to Sobotka leaving the KHL when he gets the chance this off-season. Sobotka signed a three-year deal with Omsk following the 2013-14 season, which is reportedly worth $4 million per season.
“The agent told me that the money he made (in 2014-15), they guaranteed him for (2015-16),” Blues GM Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford last May. “He’s got two weeks to decide what he’s going to do. I said ‘We’d love to have him back.’ I understand if the economics are so great in the KHL and he has to stay. I respect that. Then we’ll talk again a year from now.”
If Sobotka does return to the NHL, he has to play at least one season for the Blues after he was handed a one-year, $2.725-million contract through arbitration as a restricted free agent. It was the arbitration deal — and the salary associated with it — that sent Sobotka packing in the first place, but he has a chance at landing himself a better deal if he can perform well upon his return.
After he plays one season for the Blues, Sobotka will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. He’ll likely have to produce more than the nine goals and 33 points in 61 games he notched during his last full NHL campaign in order to land a deal near the $4 million salary he is reportedly earning with Omsk.
Over the past two seasons in the KHL, Sobotka has been productive compared to his output at the NHL level. In 97 games, he has 28 goals and 72 points, and another one goal and four points in six playoff games.