Vladimir Sobotka
Vladimir Sobotka
32-Year-Old CenterC
Buffalo Sabres
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Sobotka was a nice bottom-six contributor for the Blues with 31 points in 2017-18, but he dropped off after moving to Buffalo for the 2018-19 season, posting just 13 points and a minus-20 rating. The best case scenario for the 32-year-old Czech would be a return to 2017-18 levels of production, but with age-related decline kicking in and a fourth-line role, he'd probably be happy to break 20 points. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension with the Blues in April 2017.
Sticking on Skinner line
CBuffalo Sabres
October 16, 2019
Sobotka has received words of praise from new coach Ralph Krueger and will remain on Jeff Skinner's line until further notice. "Sobotka just doesn't get the credit he deserves here," said Krueger. "He's allowing (Marcus) Johansson and Skinner some freedom to take some risks here and there. He's an unbelievable physical presence on that line, and we're so pleased he was rewarded with something offensively today. I'm sure that will give him confidence for the future."
ANALYSIS
Sobotka picked up his first point of the season while skating on that line during Monday's win over the Stars. While it's nice the veteran has secured a spot on Buffalo's No. 2 line, remember he's primarily a checker that almost never sees time on the power play. Sobotka has been in the league since 2007 and has only put up a 30-point season twice.
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2019–20 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    15:20
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    0:01
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    1:46
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2017–18
17:07
1:40
1:09
2018–19
14:11
0:09
1:53
2019–20
15:20
0:01
1:46
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
Last season marked Sobotka's return from a three-year stint in the KHL, and he produced 11 goals and 20 helpers in 81 games. The Czech pivot carried the same grit he had in his first NHL stint, dishing out 127 hits and logging 50 PIM. However, his cap hit of $3.5 million for the next two campaigns was a tough pill for the Blues to swallow, so he was packaged in a trade to Buffalo for Ryan O'Reilly. The Sabres are getting younger and are still in a rebuild, so Sobotka is expected in a bottom-six role with a special teams presence. Nevertheless, he has proven his ceiling is around 15 goals and 35 points, making this a turbulent ride for fantasy owners.
After three seasons in the WHL, Sobotka returned to the Blues for one regular-season game last year and scored a goal, then proceeded to notch two more goals and six points over 11 postseason contests. The Czech forward posted 102 points over his 138-game stint with Omsk Avangard of the WHL, but such stats shouldn't be expected of him in the NHL. After all, the 30-year-old’s career-best output for the Blues is just 33 points in 61 games from 2013-14; he's never cracked double-digit goals in the NHL. Sobotka’s strong late-season return indicates that he may have developed further in Russia, but even so, he’s destined to bounce between top-six and bottom-six roles, likely posting no more than 40 points in the process. Keep an eye on his health, too, as he’s only once broken 70 games in the NHL. While there’s upside here, the mitigating factors make Sobotka a late-round fantasy selected in most leagues.
Have time and distance made our fantasy hearts grow stronger for this high-upside, but always underperforming center? Sobotka's talents never fully materialized in the NHL before he booted off to the KHL in 2014. He's back two seasons later after scoring 72 points in 97 games with Avangard Omsk and steps into the Blues' lineup as the second-line pivot. Will it go smoothly? Probably not – he's 5-foot-10 and under 200 pounds, and old wounds will re-open as he remembers the pains associated with playing on smaller ice. Sobotka will eventually settle into a groove and deliver a 40-point season, including a dozen or so on the power play. But that's only if the stars perfectly align. Don't over-invest on draft day, but be ready to snap him up for a short-term run once he gets into a groove.
In one of the offseason’s more surprising moves, Sobotka chose to leave the Blues for Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Sobotka agreed to a three-year, $12-million contract, a sum that was reportedly only marginally larger than what the forward would have netted annually had he elected to stay with the Blues. Given the pervading political tumult in Russia, the KHL seems to face an uncertain future, which might allow Sobotka to opt out of the contract before it concludes. Should he choose to do so, the Blues would retain Sobotka’s rights, after awarding him a one-year arbitration deal shortly after he fled for Russia. Sobotka, 27, recorded a career-best 33 points, 72 PIM and plus-14 rating in 61 games last season and would likely have an important role as a depth center waiting for him when and if he decides to return.
Sobotka is an important piece for the Blues because of his energy and above-average two-way play. The diminutive forward gets time on the power-play and the penalty kill, but his value in fantasy circles is another story. His real world skills don't overcome the fantasy numbers of only 90 points over the last six seasons. Unless he has a spike in offensive numbers, Sobotka is not someone that can help your team in any one category.
Sobotka became a favorite of head coach Ken Hitchcock, largely because of the flexibility he provides. He plays both center and wing, though Hitchcock prefers he play out on the wing. St. Louis is a bit thin at center, so we could see him return there. He was a good faceoff guy last year, winning 56.1 percent, which was second on the team among the players that lined up for more than 200 draws. Because of injuries the past two years, Sobotka has had some time on scoring lines, though it hasn't translated to a full-time top-six role. He's been effective as a role player and should get ample playing time on the third line. He plays both ends of the ice, is tenacious on the forecheck and doesn't mind throwing his body around (152 hits, fourth on team).
Sobotka found himself playing more minutes than was expected of a projected fourth-line center at the start of the season. Injuries moved him up to a top-6 forward at times, but the Blues have added more depth at forward offseason, so he’ll assume a role similar to what he had to open the 2010-11 season. He does have some ability as a passer and face off guy, and plays with a bit of recklessness, finishing second on the team with 137 hits.
Sobotka played a career-high 61 games for Boston in 2009-10 before the offseason trade that landed him in St. Louis. There's less of a crowd for playing time with the Blues, who have been trolling the bargain bins for forwards this offseason. He has some offensive skills and can play on the wing, perhaps has high as the third line if the Blues are looking for a little more panache. He'll be part of the third/fourth line rotation at the wing, along with Brad Winchester, Matt D'Agostini and B.J. Crombeen.
Sobotka is probably not going to be a fantasy factor unless injuries hit the B's forward corps hard, but he's probably ready to spend all or most of the season with the big club, after spending a majority of his time last year with AHL Providence. His best shot to make an impact out of the gate could come if David Krejci (hip surgery) is forced to miss some time early on.
Sobotka came on late in the season and certainly has the ability to improve on his numbers (1-6-7, 24 PIMs in 48 games) this season. He could carve a role as the B's No. 3 center, a role that suits his ability as an agitator/forechecker.
More Fantasy News
Back in action
CBuffalo Sabres
September 17, 2019
Sobotka (upper body) will be in the lineup for Tuesday's preseason matchup with Columbus, WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
ANALYSIS
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Won't face buyout
CBuffalo Sabres
Upper Body
June 21, 2019
Sobotka's (upper body) contract won't be bought out according to general manager Jason Botterill, Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
ANALYSIS
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Season over
CBuffalo Sabres
Upper Body
April 6, 2019
Sobotka (upper body) isn't in Detroit for Saturday's regular-season finale against the Red Wings, Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
ANALYSIS
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Remains shelved
CBuffalo Sabres
Upper Body
April 2, 2019
Sobotka (upper body) will not be in the lineup versus Nashville on Tuesday, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports.
ANALYSIS
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Not in lineup
CBuffalo Sabres
Upper Body
March 31, 2019
Sobotka (upper body) will not appear in Sunday's tilt against Columbus.
ANALYSIS
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