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Sobotka gets one-year, $2.7M deal from arbitrator, will play in KHL next season

Jul 21, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues takes the puck in the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on January 21, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka was awarded a one-year deal in club-elected salary arbitration on Monday, but will still play the 2014-15 season in the KHL after inking a contract with Avangard Omsk two weeks ago.

Per the Post-Dispatch, the arbitrator awarded Sobotka $2.725 million for the single-year pact.

Here’s the official release, from the Blues:

St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today that forward Vladimir Sobotka has been awarded a one-year contract through arbitration.

Sobotka will play the for Avangard Omsk in the KHL for the 2014-15 season. The terms of his arbitration contract will be enforced when Sobotka returns to the NHL.

“We are looking forward to having Vladimir in a Blues uniform when he returns to the NHL,” said Armstrong. “We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season.”

Sobotka, 27, inked the deal to play in Russia following acrimonious contract negotiations with the Blues. In response to the development, Armstrong set about explaining St. Louis’ offers to Sobotka, saying the Blues tabled a multi-year deal (three, four, or five years, “at [Sobotka’s] choice”) at “north of $3 million” per season. Sobotka was then offered a one-year deal at $2.7 million per, or a two-year deal at $3 million per.

“Those haven’t got it done to this point,” Armstrong said.

To give an idea of how tight negotiations were, consider what Sobotka’s agent — ex-NHLer Petr Svoboda — had to say in the aftermath.

“[Blues general manager Doug Armstrong] started at $2.4 million (for one season) and he came up to $2.7 million, so he gave me his best number,” Svoboda told the Post-Dispatch. “We were at one year, $3 million.

“Basically it was over $300,000. There was no room for negotiation. It was one year at $2.7 (million) — take it.”

Once the Blues learned of Sobotka’s move to the KHL, they quickly inked free agent center Steve Ott to a new deal.

  1. avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Where are all the moron’s that vilified Army for not just folding and giving in to the players demands. If an NHL contract of $2.7 isn’t good for Sobotka, enjoy the KHL. One word of advice, take the train or the bus!

    • hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Sad to lose good players to the KHL. But I don’t know that I believe that players agree to go to western Siberia for (at least) a year over $300k. Wonder what he’s making out there.

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        $4m tax free. Enjoy the weather. And the Russian mob. And Putin!

        Take the train or bus!

    • bcsteele - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      Yup, Armstrong made the right move here and Soby I would argue hurt himself. I understand taking the money to play in the KHL, however, he just assured that he’ll have to play at least one season at less than what Armstrong initially offered. He should of taken the 3+ million on a multi-year deal to play in the best league in the world for a contender.

      Of course that’s just my opinion and what I would have done. You can never be 100% certain of someone’s intentions or needs for that matter.

  2. jpelle82 - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    they did him dirty, plain and simple. now a comment like this just throws it in his face…as if he will ever want to ever play for them again.

    • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Did him dirty? They offered a multi year deal at north of $3M per year and he didn’t pick it! Are you out of your mind? Have you ever been to Russia? Are you capable of reading? Do you realize what he turned down to go live there?

      Sheesh. Some people’s kids!

      • hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Clearly you have a deeper problem with either Sobotka or the Blues than your reasoning is ascerting. If he is, as another commenter is saying, going to make $4M tax free, then you’re talking about a fairly large difference. He’ll make about what, $1.5M/$1.6M here, vs. $4M there? That’s substantial.

        Also, remember this kid is from Europe. Big difference from St. Louis to the C.R. Google pictures of Trebic, and then Omsk. Similar feel, there. Of course you’d have to be insane to fly home to Trebic from Omsk right now, for sure. But my point is – what, in your opinion, did he turn down to go there?

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        He was offered 3-4 years at north of $3 and turned it down. Now when/if he comes back the arb award is his number.

        Play in the NHL FOR $3+ MILLION a year and have a great lifestyle and safety of living here, or go play in RUSSIA for any number.

        Greed is a terrible problem. Like I said, take the bus or train.

      • hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Actually I didn’t realize it was you that gave the $$.

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        I didn’t realize you cannot read!

      • jpelle82 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        they wouldn’t come up 300k. he was a rfa, he wanted a 1 year deal so he could have the option to go to free agency after that….armstrong low balled him because of it….then it turned into a pissing contest. Armstrong wanted to lock him in low for multi years, when he didn’t get his way he threw a bogus number and a hissy fit and said take it or leave it. either way sobotka was gonna take less in the nhl than in Russia, he was already making that concession.

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        It’s called negotiation. Who threw the hissy fit and took their jacks and left. Then there is the part about what the arbitrator valued Sobotka at. You are forgetting that part. The Arb agreed with Army!

        You look at the $300k but the reality is Army gave him options north of $3 mil for 2,3,4 years. He could have taken a two year, proved he was worth his self appraised value and gotten a lot more.

        GM’s have a lot more to manage than one simple contract. Every few hundred K means a lot when you look at hundreds of contracts with in a team and affiliates!

      • jpelle82 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        you ever think maybe he didn’t want to play in st louis for the next 4+ years? plus then he’s playing in his prime at a potentially low number with the cap going up. he’s entitled to hit the market just like anyone else, armstrong just didn’t like that things weren’t going his way or according to his plan so he low-balled him. at that point as a man do you just put your tail between your legs, play for a team that’s pissed you off and underappreciates you, at a lowball number? I don’t know if my ego would let me do that either…

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        He had a choice of 2 years. He chose the almighty dollar over a great team and lifestyle. If your ego overrules common sense, then yes, you would have chosen the $$. He could have picked 2 years at $3, proven he is worth more and been on the market for a lot more.

        Now he gets the KHL and can come back for$2.7!

        I don’t care anymore.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Are you aware his the $3M would have been taxed. He’d make less than the $2.7M he’s getting in Russia, which is tax free.

        Also funny that you just assume the Russia is a terrible place to be. It’s not much different from any western country. Plus, getting paid to play hockey and travel around Europe can’t be too bad.

      • avscup - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        um…have you paid attention lately to world events or read any of my posts? I posted $4M TAX FREE! I get that part, I posted it!

        Playing in the KHL and the NHL are kinda different.

        BTW, he could have had north of $3M or didn’t you understand that part. So it’s not $2.7. He turned down over $3M.

        If the KHL was so great, why are so many stuck in the AHL. I have friends that have played and are playing over there. It’s not bad but it’s not $3M plus in the NHL either!

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:30 AM

        We can all play the “coulda woulda” speculation game. It’s just as easy to say “the Blues would have offered more” as it is to say “anything the Blues offered the KHL would have matched”. It is what it is now. Blues can try again in a year.

        No one if saying the KHL is better than the NHL, but they can and have lured more than a few NHLers their way and it is a league headed in the right direction.

        Also those European leagues may not mean much to North Americans, but they do mean a lot to European players. There’s a lot of reasons other than money to play in Europe. A lot of guys prefer being closer to home, closer to their families, they get bigger roles there, they can be 1st line heroes there, but could just be 2nd/3rd liners in the NHL. Radulov for example. They make a good living either way no matter where they play.

        As for the AHL, the AHL is an affiliate league to the NHL. That’s why players are there. It’s their chance to make the jump to the NHL. It’s a totally different type of league than the KHL. You can’t just call a player from the KHL to come over and play in the NHL.

      • avscup - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        Hard to be you, don’t be stupid. You are playing coulda, woulda, shoulda with your reply.

        The fact is Army said he offered a 2,3,4 year deal at north of $3M. Do you think he is lying?

        I am fully aware of the Euro leagues. I have friends over there as we speak. And KHL. It’s no picnic but you are correct, some euro’s might want to go over there.

        The fact is Sobotka must have a reason he turned down an offer that was pretty good and fair!

        My whole point was all the morons blaming Armstrong and the Blues. They are a good organization that has treated their player very well. Armstrong did his best to get Sobotka back.

        Some of you on here have a reading level of a third grader including you, hardtobeleaf. With a comment like “are you aware his $3M will be taxed.” Of course it will be taxed, At many different rates depending on what city he plays in on any given night.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        Funny you complain and make useless “third grader” comments about my tax comment being too obvious a statement, then you break this.

        “The fact is Sobotka must have a reason he turned down an offer that was pretty good and fair!”

        Of course he had his reasons. Nice vague reasons. Just like Armstrong and St Louis had their reasons for treating Sobotka the way they did in the negotiations. If you think Armstrong doesn’t get some of the blame in why it went wrong for St Louis, you’re delusional. It takes two to tango.

        Armstrong tried to low ball him and Sobotka walked… and He only signed for a year in the KHL so he could easily be back next season. Not that big of a deal. Definitely not worth getting as upset as you are over it.

        Blues have pretty much the same group of centers as last year (Backes, Berglund, Ott, Lapierre), only change is Stastny in, Sobotka out. That’s an upgrade IMO. I’m more curious how the goalie situation will play out. I think Gunnarsson will be a big help there too. He’ll finally get to shine now that he doesn’t have to babysit Dion Phaneuf.

        anyways. Chill out and enjoy the summer… Good Luck

      • avscup - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        I’m not upset. I am amused at the stupidity of some people.

        You keep missing an obvious fact. Armstrong didn’t lowball him. His final offer was a step back which happens sometimes when a player is being stubborn. The initial offers were very fair for more money yet you fail to comprehend what the Arbitrator determined. The same number as Army’s final number! Wow. Newsflash! That’s the number that was determined as fair! By an impartial person doing his job!

        What is being overlooked and is strange is if Sobotka’s goal is to make more money in a couple years in the NHL, he sort of blew it. The $2.7 number is what he will come back to. He could of had $3m per for 2 years, performed and taken a nice leap in 2 years.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back to the NHL next year. Leo Komarov came back for the Leafs after going to the KHL. He left under very similar circumstances to Sobotka too. He left for the KHL in the middle of negotiations. Leafs got caught lowballing when they could have got it done.

      • avscup - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        The problem is all negotiations end when one side stops. In adobo takes case, I cannot imagine they could not have reached an agreement had Sobotka continued. Now, he goes to the KHL, lives in a politically unsettled place with a much lower quality of life and when he wants back in, technically, he is right back where he left off. He could have had so much more.

      • bluesdroogie - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        @Hard to BeLeaf

        You said Sobotka only signed for a year to play in the KHL. That is incorrect. He signed a 3 year deal with an opt out clause at the end of each season. While he could be back in the NHL after 1 year his contract in the KHL is for 3 years.

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Is that you, Petr Svoboda?

  3. djshnooks - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    He doesn’t deserve to come back to the NHL. Once a guy leaves, he should be banned from coming back into the league.

    You either stay in the place that made you, or you go back to your home country.

    They don’t deserve a free pass.

    • hockey412 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      That’s one scary-ass opinion you got yourself there.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      I’ve never seen anyone who was so opposed to personal choices

      • rmccleary97 - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        Personal choice is fine with djshnooks – as long as it’s whatever he thinks is acceptable.

      • avscup - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        His name is Barry Sotero!

  4. bucfanforlife - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    this guy is good not great in reality he is a dime a dozen player in the nhl, plays hard and fast, but that is what he has to do to stay in the league, a little above a grinder talent wise blues are deep not saying they wont miss him but
    them four lines are pretty good still have jaskins,paarjvi,mccarthy, ferrieo, mcrae,porter,rattie,androv and still others for depth
    names might be misspelled but real fans know who i’m talking about

    • bluesrawesome - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      He was #1 in the league in faceoff %. Thats a skill in its own. I would pay him 3 mil for a year the type of guy u need on your team to win a cup. He can play1st line minutes if there are injuries and not look out of place.

    • bluesrawesome - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      He was #1 in the league in faceoff %. Thats a skill in its own. I would pay him 3 mil for a year the type of guy u need on your team to win a cup. He can play1st line minutes if there are injuries and not look out of place. It’s funny ppl r calling Armstrong cheap but he can up from original offer where Sobotka didn’t come down at all. So Army actully tried negotiating.

      • bucfanforlife - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        if he is your first line center your in trouble

  5. nhstateline - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    Because of the tax difference it is a huge amount of money more that he gets by going to Russia. Parts of Russian life are very difficult and some of what goes on in that country on a day to day basis would not be understood by North Americans but it’s been done in these ways for a long time. As a Russian, Sobotka won’t have any adjustment problems. He should be used to all of it including living on the base. Really the crazy amounts of flight time and the many time zone changes will probably be the biggest differences.
    The Blues will also be fine. St. Louis will continue to be a nice place. This is one of those times where it did all seem to be about business for everyone involved.

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      BIRTHPLACE: Trebic, Czech Republic

      Moral of the story: Sobotka isn’t Russian.

      • paperlions - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        Seriously, do people think only Russian’s can be named Vlad?

        This is just as bad as thinking all Latin Americans are Mexican.

  6. rmccleary97 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Yes, Sobotka is getting “all that money from the KHL tax-free.” There’s also the travel conditions, the lodging conditions in some places, the poor condition of arenas in general (and the even poorer condition of locker rooms and training facilities), sometimes teams don’t provide equipment (which the player then has to buy), potential issues with getting paid on time, the fact that KHL contracts are “guaranteed” only to the extent the owner wants it to be, … who knows, maybe that difference between his KHL salary and his NHL after-tax salary (ignoring other benefits like per diem, pension plan / health insurance, etc.) is worth all that.

  7. c9castine - Jul 21, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    svoboda is quickly developing a reputation as a difficult agent to work with.

    have fun in the KHL. youll pocket some more money, it a good league.

    but nobody cares. the best players play in the best league and show what they are worth.

    you got an offer that was high than you were determined to be worth by arbitrators. so, when you come back to the NHL, youll be in the same place you started, as opposed to playing here for a short contract and proving your worth more.

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