Sorry if you got your hopes up about the return of Vladimir Sobotka, St. Louis Blues fans, because it appears the 27-year-old pivot is going to be sticking around in the KHL.
The official website of the KHL’s Avangard Omsk, hawk.ru, has reported that Sobotka will be returning to the club next season. Following the 2013-14 season, Sobotka inked a three-year deal with Avangard, but rumors had been circling that he was considering a return to the NHL next season.
“Yesterday we had a conversation with Vladimir Sobotka, and we agreed that he is a player of our club for another season,” Vladimir Shalaev, Avangard’s president told the site.
The three-year contract with Omsk came about leading up to an arbitration hearing following the 2013-14 campaign. Through arbitration, Sobotka, who had scored nine goals and 33 points in 61 games for the Blues, was awarded a one-year, $2.725 million contract to play for St. Louis. Instead of playing under the deal, Sobotka instead went to the KHL, where he is reportedly making $4 million per season.
It was also reported that the contract allows for Sobotka to return to the NHL at the culmination of any season, which was what allowed him to entertain the option this off-season.
When, or if, he does return to the NHL, Sobotka will have to play out the one-year deal that he was given through arbitration. In talking with Blues GM Doug Armstrong, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy P. Rutherford was told discussions have gone on between the Blues and Sobotka’s agent.
"The agent told me that the money he made (in 2014-15), they guaranteed him for (2015-16),” Armstrong told Rutherford. “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."
Last season in the KHL, Sobotka tallied 11 goals and 40 points in 57 games while skating more than 19 minutes per game as a top line center. In the NHL, Sobotka was a second- or third-line center and scored 35 goals and 123 points in 381 contests.
“Sobotka’s game last season clearly showed that we were right inviting him to Avangard,” Shalaev said in the release.
Drafted by Boston in the fourth round, 106th overall, of the 2005 draft, the Bruins eventually shipped Sobotka to the Blues in exchange for the rights to defenseman David Warsofsky.