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2011 Free Agency Watch: Signings, Trades, And Big Moves

The Blues today tendered offers to three restricted free agents: T.J. Oshie, Ben Bishop, and Ryan Reaves. Oshie was widely expected to be one of the first RFAs to have an offer sheet given to him, but there has been a hold-up in negotiations. The Blues, chances are good, view Oshie as worth slightly less of a contract than Oshie's agent did - which makes sense. Oshie's missed considerable bits of time in each of his NHL seasons, and thanks to that has yet to crack the 20 goal mark. Jeremy Rutherford also points out that his little two game suspension could make other teams weary of extending an offer sheet to St. Louis for Oshie's services. Obviously, the Blues would also take that into account if they're going about determining how much they should pay Oshie in re-signing him.

Oshie's salary paid him $1,275,000; Bishop's paid $893,333, and Reaves' paid $500,000Reaves at least will be getting 110% of last year's salary; Bishop 105%. Oshie is not guaranteed a raise, though chances are fairly good that he will be given one. The interesting thing for Oshie, though, is length of contract. He's going to have to be locked up for a good bit - a short term, one or two year contract deal and he'll still be an RFA at the end of it. Any longer than that, and the Blues are going to have to deal with an Oshie who is an unrestricted free agent. 

Of course, depending on how Oshie plays over the next two years, and if the Blues find someone just as talented who isn't constantly hurt, this might not be an issue.

If these three Blues accept their contracts and sign, it's a done deal. If not, they're still restricted free agents and the Blues have first negotiating priority until arbitration. If an arbitrator states that the player is worth more than the team is willing to pay (as notably happened last season with Clarke MacArthur and the Atlanta Thrashers), then the player can walk and explore unrestricted free agency. The deadline to file for arbitration is July 5th.

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