While the St. Louis Blues locked up one of their veteran forwards Tuesday, they traded another as the team continues shaping itself for the upcoming season.
The Blues signed veteran winger Jamie Langenbrunner to a one-year contract extension worth $1.5 million and also traded veteran forward B.J. Crombeen to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Blues sent Crombeen and their fifth-round pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay for the Lightning's fourth-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong also said the arbitration hearing date is July 20 for restricted free agent winger T.J. Oshie.
"Both sides are open to talk, but both sides are preparing for arbitration if we have to get to it," Armstrong said.
Langenbrunner said he weighed many options before deciding to return to the Blues, which were his top choice.
"I'm not just making decisions for me, you're looking to see what's good for your family," Langenbrunner said. "St. Louis is the best fit for all of us. It took a little bit of time, but in the end they wanted me there and I wanted to be there. It just worked itself out."
Langenbrunner turns 37 on July 24 and had six goals and 24 points last season, his first with the Blues. In 17 NHL seasons he has 243 goals and 662 points in 1,105 games while being an integral part of two Stanley Cup championship squads.
"Jamie came in and his work ethic and his professionalism and his ability to help a group trying to push to a new level was instrumental in our season," said Armstrong, whose team had 109 points and reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. "We think he'll be a real good piece of the puzzle moving forward for next season."
Langenbrunner said the Blues still have a long way to go.
"It's a process, you just don't go from missing the playoffs to winning Stanley Cups overnight very often," Langenbrunner said. "You need to go through that and we definitely made some progress, putting ourselves in the mix of the top teams. It's something you want to be a part of, especially at this stage of my career."
Langenbrunner believes the ingredients for more success are here.
"I think it's a great group of guys that's willing to keep on learning and keep on getting better," he sad. "They're not satisfied with what we did last year -- and we shouldn't be. We want to win a Stanley Cup and that should be our focus."
Langenbrunner was a major part of the team's leadership core last season.
"I think realizing that we made some great strides was good," he said. "Those were the easy strides to make, going from out to in the playoffs. Now it's trying to be a top team night-in and night-out, being prepared to play good hockey each and every night. We're not going to surprise anybody any more."
A team favorite because of his blue-collar playing style and locker room humor and wit, Crombeen had one goal, three points and 71 penalty minutes with the Blues last season. He has been with the team for four seasons since being claimed on waivers from Dallas in 2008, during which he had 26 goals and 49 points along with 515 penalty minutes.
"He'll definitely be missed in our locker room," Langenbrunner said of Crombeen. "He was a fantastic teammate and fantastic guy to be around."
"When we acquired him from Dallas he came in and gave us the spark that we needed and was very helpful in creating our identity," Armstrong said. "B.J. gave us everything he had on the ice and along with his wife, was very active in our community."
Armstrong said the emergence of young Blues winger Ryan Reaves last season, combined with the presence of another tough forward prospect, Anthony Peluso, helped open the door to move Crombeen.
Russian rookie Vladimir Tarasenko is also expected to fill a forward slot with the Blues and another rookie, Jaden Schwartz, will be pushing for one as well.
"I don't think (Crombeen) wanted to be a part of a group of 13 (forwards)," Armstrong said. "Tampa's a real good fit for him, he can go in there probably penciled in for a roster spot opening night."
Reaves (6-foot-1, 229 pounds) is younger at 25 and had three goals, four points and 124 penalty minutes in 60 games last season. He also saw time in two playoff contests, adding valuable postseason experience.
"We think all the players last year gained from the experience, probably none more than Ryan Reaves," Armstrong said. "He now should see a clear indication that there's a roster spot there. He's been through the awkward time of learning the NHL and finding his way around our league.
"Now he has to come in and show his teammates he's ready to do his job on a nightly basis. We saw very good things from him."
Armstrong said Langenbrunner isn't being signed only for his leadership.
"They have to be players on the ice first and foremost," Armstrong said. "If you can't perform on the ice, then leadership and those things are difficult to put into the room. We still think Jamie's got some good hockey left in him, but part of his fabric is his leadership and personality.
"He's a winner, he's won two Stanley Cups, he captained Team USA in the Olympics in 2010. Having those character people in your organization is strong as we continue to develop and grow."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.