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Blues V Sharks Game 4

St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson (6) and San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun (61) tangle sticks in the first period action of Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference finals between the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks on Friday, May 17, 2019, at the Enterprise Center. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

One of the last pieces on the Blues' roster puzzle fell into place on Tuesday when an arbitrator set defenseman Joel Edmundson's salary for 2019-20 at $3.1 million.

The ruling leaves the Blues with about $2.7 million of space under the salary cap and one player yet to sign, center Ivan Barbashev. He's a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, so his choices are limited: the Blues, the KHL or not playing.

Barbashev made $863,333 last season in the final year of his entry-level deal. After a 14-goal season and positive reviews for his play centering the fourth line, he's looking to at least double that salary and maybe go higher. Forward Oskar Sundqvist also had a 14-goal season and got a four-year deal with an average annual value of $2.75 million.

General manager Doug Armstrong on Monday told Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson that the sides were close and it would take just one phone call, but he wasn't sure when that phone call would happen.

Edmundson had an up-and-down season which made it tough to assess exactly where he fits in the Blues' plans. He at times played on the top defensive pairing, at other times on the bottom pairing, and three times in the regular season and four times in the playoffs was a healthy scratch as he had issues with puck control, being charged with 24 giveaways in 22 playoff games. He was a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with Boston but was back on the ice for Game 7. When he played, it often wasn't much. In Games 4 and 7, he played just 7:24 and 9:04 respectively as the team relied on other members of the defensive corps.

Edmundson is one of the youngsters in that unit. The 27-year-old Edmundson is younger than all his bluelinemates except Vince Dunn. Last season's defensive group is returning essentially intact.

"He is an important part of our defensive unit and we are looking forward to another successful year,” Armstrong said in the Blues' announcement of the decision.

Edmundson had just two goals and nine assists in 64 regular-season games (he missed 11 games late in the season with a lower-body injury) and led the team in penalty minutes with 68. In the playoffs, he had one goal and six assists in 22 games.

The arbitration figure of $3.1 million was not far from the midpoint from the Blues' $2.3 million offer and Edmundson's counter of $4.2 million. It's the slightest of raises for Edmundson, who made $3 million last season on a one-year deal that was reached right before he was to have his arbitration hearing. This time, a deal couldn't be struck; Edmundson will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Edmundson looked to be in line for a bigger deal after the 2017-18 season, in which he had seven goals and 10 assists, but the Blues were reluctant to give out big contracts after a year in which they failed to make the playoffs, so while Edmundson did get a raise from $1.05 million to $3 million, he also got only a one-year deal.

Of the 41 arbitration cases filed this season, Edmundson was one of just six to be decided by an arbitrator. The Blues had five players go to arbitration, and the other four were settled before the hearing was held.

NBC PICKS GAMES

Despite being Stanley Cup champions, the Blues aren't scheduled for any NBC network broadcasts this season, though they are scheduled for 15 games on NBCSN. (Some of those games will be blacked out locally, with the game airing as usual on Fox Sports Midwest.)

It's nothing personal about the Blues, only about where they're from. Other than two outdoor games, all the games televised by NBC involve Eastern Conference teams, particularly Pittsburgh and Boston.

The Blues' season opener against Washington on Oct. 2 will be broadcast by NBCSN, one of four times the Blues will appear on Wednesday Night Hockey, the network's premier hockey showcase.

Though it's not a Blues game, St. Louis will be on NBC when the network broadcasts the All-Star Game on Jan. 25. NBCSN will carry the skills competition the day before.


Edmundson got a B- for his performance last season. Here's how his teammates fared

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