Monday was the last day for NHL teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents, and the Blues — as expected — did so for six players: forwards Ivan Barbashev, Pavel Buchnevich, Dakota Joshua, Jordan Kyrou, Zach Sanford and Robert Thomas.
By doing so, the Blues have matching rights should any of them receive offer sheets from outside teams once the free agency period starts on Wednesday. Restricted free agents almost never switch teams in the NHL, so this action by the Blues all but assures the players will be with the team next year.
Of the six, Barbashev, Buchnevich, Joshua and Sanford are arbitration eligible.
Buchnevich was acquired Friday from the New York Rangers for Sammy Blais and a second-round draft pick in 2022. The Blues would like to sign Buchnevich to a multi-year deal, but Monday’s move allows the team to retain his rights no matter what.
There were four other players eligible for restricted free agency in the organization — forwards Jacon de la Rose, Erik Foley and Evan Polei, as well as goalie Evan Fitzpatrick — and none received a qualifying offer from the team, making them unrestricted free agents.
Acquired from Winnipeg as part of the Paul Stastny trade in 2018, Foley has not played since the 2017-18 season (with Providence College) because of concussion issues.