St. Louis Blues defenceman Joel Edmundson was recently awarded a $3.1 million, one-year deal in arbitration, which is the most he has earned in his career so far. He asked for $4.2 million and the Blues offered him $2.3 million, so $3.1 million is almost exactly in the middle, which seems pretty fair if that’s all you look at. Last season, he earned $3 million. But after last season when his play declined, did he deserve a raise at all? With only $2.7 million left in cap space, they will not be able to sign both restricted free agent Ivan Barbashev and unrestricted free agent Pat Maroon. Would trading Edmundson help the Blues sign their free-agent forwards? Should they?
Joel Edmundson’s Last Season
Last season, Joel Edmundson had two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 64 regular-season games. His career-high is 17 points in 69 regular-season games.
In the playoffs, he had one goal and six assists for seven points in 22 games played. This was his career-best. It is fair to say it was his career-best because this is the first time since he started playing for the Blues that they made it past the Western Conference Finals.
He added 68 minutes in penalties in the regular season. This was his career-high. His 10 minutes in penalties in the playoffs was his second-highest behind 2016-17 when he had 14.
Defensively, Edmundson was very back and forth. Known for being a decent bottom-six forward, he had a 50.4 percent Corsi and had a relative Corsi of -1.5 compared to his teammates, which is average at best. On a more positive note, he was second on the team in hits with 128 (behind Maroon). He was also fourth on the team in blocks at even strength (behind Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester) with 106.
For the most part, this was not Edmundson’s best season. While he did win the Stanley Cup, that shouldn’t necessarily warrant a pay raise. It’s not that he played a huge part in helping the Blues win. He was a healthy scratch in four of the 26 Blues playoff games, including one in the Stanley Cup Final. But, he played when the Blues won in Game 7 and that is all that matters.
Joel Edmundson Compared to Other Blues Players
For the majority of last season, Edmundson was on the second or third defensive pairing. He averaged 19:23 minutes of ice time in the regular season and 16:32 minutes of ice time in the playoffs. Both were the second-highest of his career.
Here is what the Blues defencemen salary cap hits will be this season:
Pietrangelo – $6.5 million
Parayko – $5.5 million
Bouwmeester – $3.25 million
Edmundson – $3.1 million
Carl Gunnarsson – $1.75 million
Robert Bortuzzo – $1.375 million
Vince Dunn – $722,500
Edmundson averaged 19:23 minutes of ice time in the regular season and 16:32 minutes of ice time in the playoffs. Those are right in between what Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson averaged just like his salary cap hit. Bouwmeester has been a first or second pairing defenceman while Gunnarsson has mostly been a second or third pairing defencemen, like Edmundson.
Arguably, Bouwmeester is making too much money so no team may be willing to trade for that contract. It might be in the Blues best interest to trade another big contract away before it runs out.
Edmundson made $3 million last season, which was fair because the 2017-18 season was the best of his career both offensively and defensively. However, he declined in both this season.
Why Trading Joel Edmundson Could Help the Blues
If the Blues traded him now, they would have the potential to have more cap space to sign forwards Ivan Barbashev and Pat Maroon. Barbashev is a restricted free agent and Maroon is an unrestricted free agent. While it has been reported that Barbashev is interested in signing in the KHL, neither have signed yet.
The fact that he asked for $4.2 million means that he is just going to want more after this upcoming season. He’s a good player, but that asking price is ridiculous. Especially if he wants a long term to go with it when he has not proven himself yet. In the end, the Blues will most likely not be able to afford Edmundson after this season so they should at least try to get something for him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Blues will have four unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents to worry about next offseason: Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Brayden Schenn, Robby Fabbri, Vince Dunn, Sammy Blais, and MacKenzie MacEachern. Unless Edmundson has a career year, he shouldn’t be a high priority like Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn, whose value should rightfully go up. Trading him now would make it easier to focus on signing everyone else next offseason.
With trading Edmundson, that would give Vince Dunn and Robert Bortuzzo a chance to step up and shine. With more experience, Dunn could turn out to be one of the best defencemen on the team. Given more games, Bortuzzo could continue to improve. It could also give some of the Blues farm club defencemen a chance like Mitch Reinke who had 45 points in 76 games last season.
All in all, trading Edmundson could give the Blues the capability to do a lot more things. That, in turn, could help the team be more successful than it if they kept him for the entire season. The most notable positives being the possibility of being able to sign their free agents and move up more talented defencemen.