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Rumblings: Brodeur's future foggy, league ticked at Kings, Drouin likely to stay put

Martin Brodeur's bonus-laden contract with the St. Louis Blues is unique in more ways than one.

Most notably, though, are those two roster payments of $125,000 apiece, one payable Feb. 1 and the other March 4 if he’s still on an NHL roster. (Which are in addition to his prorated salary of $700,000.)

The question is, will he be on the Blues' roster still or that of another NHL team?

If there's one thing everyone involved in his signing with the Blues can agree on, it's that there are so many "what ifs" involved in how this will ultimately play out.

Could he play out the rest of the season in St. Louis, even if that means being a No. 3 goalie? Yes, perhaps.

Could he be traded to another playoff-bound team before the March 2 deadline? Yes, of course.

Could he pack it in before then for a variety of reasons? Yes, also a possibility.

Both Brodeur and the Blues are playing this week to week. No need to look past that.

For now, the future Hall of Famer ensures quality assistance to Jake Allen while Brian Elliott recovers from a knee injury.

After Elliott returns, the Blues will likely still want Brodeur around in case Elliott has a setback, which can happen sometimes when returning from a knee injury.

But once it's clear the Elliott-Allen tandem is back for good, that's when the decision will get interesting both for Brodeur and the Blues. Because even though Brodeur doesn't officially have a no-trade or no-movement clause in his contract, there's certainly a gentlemen's agreement between all involved that the goalie will be dealt with the utmost respect in terms of his next move. He's not going to get dealt to a team he has no interest in going to, to be blunt about it.

For now, this signing is simple: The Blues have afforded the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie an entry back into the NHL, while Brodeur gives the Blues important protection during a period of the season in which they play a lot of games. The workload would have been too much for Allen to handle by himself and there weren't viable options in the minors.

Because it's worth remembering: the Blues finished one point out of first place in the Central last season, which netted them a first-round date with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Every point matters, and that's a huge reason that GM Doug Armstrong pursued Brodeur the moment Elliott was injured last week.

That's why it's fitting that Brodeur will earn $10,000 for every point in the standings he earns as the goalie of record. It's exactly what this is about for St. Louis.

Kings in NHL doghouse

The NHL was beyond furious Tuesday after finding out that suspended defenseman Slava Voynov skated with his teammates during the Los Angeles Kings' optional morning skate.

You see, the NHL felt it was already being flexible in allowing Voynov to use the team's practice facility and skate on his own as per the terms of his suspension.

I believe it was made quite clear by deputy commissioner Bill Daly in his conversation with Kings GM Dean Lombardi on Tuesday that the league reserves the right to stiffen the terms of that suspension to where Voynov is completely banned from any access to the team's facility -- period.

But the whole episode, to me, underlines what had been a building tension between the Kings and the league. No question, in my mind, the Kings had a right to feel at a disadvantage before finally getting cap relief; as many other team executives around the league shared, it wasn't fair for the Kings to pay such a price cap/roster-wise because of the mistake of one player that happened off the ice.

And when commissioner Gary Bettman, asked about the Kings' cap situation, was quoted earlier this month saying essentially that NHL teams just need to do a better job of managing their cap, the Kings didn't take kindly to that.

Still, that was a mistake Tuesday, no ifs and buts about it. This is a player facing a felony charge. The NHL suspension must be adhered to. There’s no leeway here, no gray area.

Keep an eye on Sobotka

Don't forget about Vladimir Sobotka. His name could resurface in the lead-up to the March 2 trade deadline.

A former Blue, Sobotka signed a three-year deal with Omsk of the KHL last summer. However, he has a one-month window after the season in which he can opt out and return to the NHL. I suspect he will opt out after the season.

If he does, he'll have to play out the one-year contract he was awarded in arbitration last July, a deal that would pay him $2.725 million.

No question in my mind the Blues will get offers on him before March 2. There will be non-playoff teams trying to sell assets that could help the contending Blues in return for Sobotka.

Not to say the Blues won't listen, but I know that GM Doug Armstrong remains a big fan of the Czech center and sees him being an important part of their club next season if he chooses to opt out of his KHL contract.

Don't forget, Armstrong got lots of trade offers on Sobotka last summer during the contract stalemate. He chose not to accept any of them. Read into that and teams will need to absolutely blow away the Blues to get Sobotka.

Flames keep the freeze

Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving has decided to continue Brian Burke's custom of widening the holiday roster freeze.

While the league's official freeze will go Dec. 19-27, the Flames will go Dec. 12-27, adding seven days to the window when trades can't happen, Treliving told ESPN.com.

Will Drouin play for Team Canada?

Hockey Canada is quietly holding out hope that the Tampa Bay Lightning would send Jonathan Drouin to the World Juniors, but I think it's a long shot.

The Bolts haven't closed the door on the idea totally and it's expected GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper would talk about it in the coming days, but I don't think sending Drouin to a third World Juniors will be in the cards.

While Drouin was a healthy scratch Tuesday in Buffalo, Cooper was trying to involve all 14 forwards he has on the roster, and the kid has played most nights and played regular minutes.

I could be wrong, but I think Drouin stays in Tampa.