With the NHL free agent market opening Sunday, St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong has some unfinished in-house business to attend to before pursuing trades and free-agent signings.
He's been busy, already locking up two Blues players. Defenseman Barret Jackman got a new three-year, $9.5 million contract while winger Chris Stewart got a one-year, $3 million deal.
The Blues remaining restricted free agents are wingers T.J. Oshie and David Perron, both of whom have received their qualifying offers.
The 25-year-old Oshie, coming off a season when he tied captain David Backes for the team scoring lead with 19 goals and 54 points, is likely in line for a long-term deal.
"We'll talk to him and see if we can find common ground on a contract with a little bit better length to it," said Armstrong, who signed Oshie to a one-year, $2.35 million deal following the 2010-11 season looking for the former first-round draft pick to take a step forward, which he did. "If not, both sides still have arbitration rights we can exercise in early July. I'm very comfortable he'll get signed, I'm not sure when."
Perron, 24, is in a bit different situation because of the extensive time he's missed the last two seasons because of a concussion.
Perron still played well after his return last season with 21 goals and 42 points in just 57 games. He made $2.15 million last season.
"They're both at different stages," Armstrong said. "T.J. had a really strong summer and a real strong season. David came back and played well, but we need to make sure his injuries are behind him."
Among the Blues' unrestricted free agents are forwards Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Scott Nichol and Chris Porter. The unrestricted free agent defensemen are Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins.
Armstrong has talked about the Blues adding another defenseman to the mix, most likely a top-four defenseman, with potential forward spots to fill as well.
"We're trying to see where we sit with our own unrestricted free agents," Armstrong said. "That gives a real good understanding of what we need to accomplish via trade or free agency in July."
Armstrong believes there is plenty of room for growth --and more scoring -- from the current roster. That may be important in the first summer under a new ownership group headed by Tom Stillman, despite Blues fans' wishful thinking for a high-dollar free-agent signing.
"The growth of our team is still internal right now and we need to come back and have our players in the prime of their careers take another step," Armstrong said. "I d like to see (Alex) Steen and (Andy) McDonald have good summers and come back healthy and ready to go. That will improve our offensive dramatically just on those two fronts."
Both players missed extensive time with concussions last season. McDonald put up 10 goals and 22 points in 22 games, while Steen had 15 goals and 28 points in 43 games.
Armstrong would like to acquire a left-handed defenseman, but said Monday he believes Alex Pietrangelo could make the switch from the right to left if needed.
"He's still set to play on the left side if we need to go that way," Armstrong said. "I think Petro has the natural ability to play both sides. "You want to get as good a player as you can find, preferably a guy that can play the left side."
One name being floated in repeated trade rumors is veteran Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
The third overall pick in 2002 developed star level talent with the Florida Panthers, posting double-digit goal totals in his final three seasons there before moving to Calgary.
The durable Bouwmeester, 28, has not missed a game in his last seven seasons, but his point totals have dropped with the Flames. He had five goals and 29 points last season with a plus-minus rating of minus-21.
Bouwmeester has two years remaining on his current contract, which pays him $6.6 million per season with a salary cap hit of $6.68 million.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.