The St. Louis Blues expect to know in the next week whether forward Vladimir Sobotka will return from the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2015-16 season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A restricted free agent when he left the Blues in the summer of 2014 to sign a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, Sobotka has an out clause following each season allowing him to return to the NHL.
Sobotka has two weeks from the end of the IIHF World Championship to let Omsk know of his decision. The World Championship ended May 17, giving Sobotka until the end of the month.
"If he decides to come back to the NHL, we'll welcome him back with open arms," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. "And if not, we'll address it a year from now. He knows he's going to come back through St. Louis."
Sobotka had NHL career highs of nine goals and 33 points during the 2013-14 season with the Blues. He had 10 goals and 38 points for Omsk this season.
Sobotka is set to make $4.5 million tax-free in the KHL next season, which Armstrong acknowledged could make it difficult for the Blues to entice him back. The Blues filed for NHL salary arbitration after Sobotka signed in the KHL, and an arbitrator awarded him a one-year, $2.725 million contract which would take effect upon his return to the Blues.
"I had a good talk with his agent," Armstrong said. "The agent told me that the money he made last year, they guaranteed him for next year. … I said, 'We'd love to have him back.' I understand if the economics are so great in the KHL and he has to stay. I respect that. Then we'll talk again a year from now."