Chris Stewart's arbitration hearing with the Blues will be held on July 22nd, as reported by Jeremy Rutherford. If the Blues aren't able to reach a deal with Stewart prior to his hearing on the 22nd, the St. Louis forward will pitch his case to an arbitrator along with a requested salary.
How does an arbitration hearing work? Both sides (Stewart and the Blues) submit an annual salary figure to the arbitrator. The arbitrator then determines an annual salary they believe the player deserves. This number can be between the two figures submitted by the team and player, but there are instances where the number isn't within that range. The Blues then have the option of locking Stewart into either a one-year or a two-year deal at the rate assigned by the arbitrator.
The Blues still might work out a deal with Stewart even though his hearing is scheduled. If you recall, the Blues agreed to a five-year deal with T.J. Oshie just hours before his scheduled hearing. It's entirely possible a similar scenario happens with Stewart.
If a hearing is needed, Rutherford believes the Blues would elect to sign Stewart to a one-year deal even though they'd have the option to go for two years.
The one year deal rather than a two year deal choice would be driven by the fact that after two years, Stewart will be an unrestricted free agent. Only makes sense for the Blues to keep as much fiscal control as they can manage.
I think the larger question here is what the actual number ends up being, and how that impacts what remains in reserve for Pietrangelo. Even given the Perron for Paajarvi deal, it's still going to be a tight squeeze, especially if Stewart comes in closer to the $5M/year value than the $4M/year one. And, you have to keep the thought in the back of your mind that the arbitrator could exceed that value, too, which could make things quite interesting for the pursuit of Pietrangelo, in the old Chinese curse sense of the word.
As usual, I can't help but trust Doug Armstrong to make this all work out somehow in the Blues' favor, so I can keep waiting impatiently for the season to start without worrying too much about the finances of it.
@miendiem There's also the possible, but extremely unlikely scenario that the Blues elect to not offer him a deal. I think the only way that happens is if the arbitrator makes some sort of crazy high ruling well above $5 million.
I'm also wondering how everyone is going to fit. There's roughly $12.9 million in space. Pietrangelo should eat up $6-7 million, Stewart around $4 million or $5 million...and then that's about it. Jake Allen and Paajarvi will need to accept pretty small contracts. The Blues can exceed the salary cap during the summer as long as they arrive back under it for camp. Maybe deals are signed and another move is made down the road?
@David Rogers That does sound likely to me. It could be that Armstrong is waiting to see how those two contracts shape up before making his next move, which will make the result fit in under the cap.