Blues announce Sobotka to KHL

ST. LOUIS — The Blues announced Monday morning that Vladimir Sobotka had been awarded a one-year contract through arbitration, but that he will play in Russia’s KHL for the 2014-15 season.

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

Sobotka has signed a deal to play for Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, beginning this upcoming season, but when/if he returns to the NHL the terms of the contract awarded by the arbiter on Monday will be enforced.

The 27-year-old center from the Czech Republic, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins in a trade back in 2010, had become a fan favorite with the Blues and a valued member of the roster.

He led the NHL with a 61.9 percent faceoff percentage this past season, when he also accumulated a career-high 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) in 61 games.

Monday’s announcement comes 11 days after reports surfaced that Sobotka was headed to KHL on a three-year deal that allowed him to return to the NHL after any of those three seasons. That’s the same day the Blues announced they had re-signed Steve Ott to a two-year deal.

Armstrong spoke with the media on a conference call that day to discuss the Ott signing but also talked openly about the Sobotka situation and broke down the Blues’ attempts to sign Sobie to a contract extension.

"In June, we offered him a multi-year deal: three, four, five [years] of his choice at north of $3 million. Our last offers were a one-year deal at $2.7 or a two-year deal at $3 million and those haven't got it done to this point,” Armstrong said. “Based on, and again, I can't confirm that he's signed in the KHL. I don't have any written documentation that that's happened, but that's where we were at with Vladimir. If he's gone to the KHL, it doesn't change my outlook on Vladdy as a player or a person. I have the utmost respect for him as a competitor, the utmost respect for him as part of the organization. I thought our offers always indicated that we value him, that we were placing a premium value on the things that aren't always seen on a stat sheet with the offer of $3 million. But in fairness, if the numbers that are potentially reported in the KHL, it's an economic decision that I can't really argue with him taking.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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