Blues confirm the forward will play in Russia for 2015-16 season
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues finally confirmed what was likely the answer they knew for some time: forward Vladimir Sobotka will not return; at least for another year.
The Blues announced Monday morning that Sobotka will remain in the KHL and not return to the club for the 2015-16 season.
Sobotka, 27, and his agent Petr Svoboda confirmed to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong that he will stay and play a second season with Avangard Omsk and thus remain on the team's reserve/suspended list.
Sobotka left the Blues last summer in a contract dispute after he became a restricted free agent. He was asking the Blues roughly $3 million on a new contract but was awarded just north of $2.7 million by an arbitrator.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
The Blues confirmed that Vladimir Sobotka has
decided to remain in the KHL for 2015-16.
"... We had a conversation with Vladimir Sobotka, and we agreed that he is a player of our club for another season," said Vladimir Shalaev, the club's president, according to the report. "... Vladimir said that he likes to play in our team. ... He understands that he has become one of the leaders of the team."
If and when Sobotka, who had 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) in 2013-14 for the Blues, returns to the NHL, he owes the Blues one year of service and Armstrong has maintained that stance that he will play here when and if he returns.
Armstrong, on a visit to the Czech Republic for the World Championships, spoke with Sobotka's agent regarding the Blues' interest of his return.
"It's his call," Armstrong said at the time of Sobotka, who had 40 points (29 assists) in 57 regular season games for Avangard this past season. "I talked to his representative in Prague when I was there. I just said, 'We'd love to have him back in the NHL.' He's coming back through St. Louis whether it's this year, next year or in four or five years. If he wants to come back in the NHL, he'll waltz through here at some point."
The earliest that point will have to wait until at least the 2016-17 season.
The Blues can at any point trade Sobotka's rights but seem determined to have at the very least, owe them the one year of service.