Blues lock up Shattenkirk with new 4-year deal; finalize Berglund contract

Belleville News-DemocratJune 26, 2013 

After locking up Patrik Berglund earlier Wednesday, the St. Louis Blues reached agreement with restricted free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on a new four-year deal worth $17 million.

"So excited to be a part of this Blues team for the next four years!" Shattenkirk posted on his Twitter account. "Grateful for the opportunity and happy to be back with the boys."

The 24-year-old Shattenkirk had five goals and 23 points in 48 games last season. The former first-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche ranked second among Blues defenseman in points and his plus-minus rating of plus-2 was ninth. In 201 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman has 23 goals and 109 points.

Though prepared to work with Berglund and his agent on a multi-year deal, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong instead got a refreshing response.

"When I talked to Patrik and his agent, we talked about different lengths," Armstrong said Wednesday. "We were open to discussing all different alternatives and Patrik felt that a one-year deal was something he was the most comfortable with."

Berglund decided to sign a one-year extension worth $3.25 million, then will revisit free agency as a restricted free agent again at this time next year.

"I think he believes that he wanted to come back and have a very good season and take his game to another level," Armstrong said. "He wanted to put the focus on this year and put his best foot forward. I was very impressed by that thought process. In today's game when everybody wants term, Patrik was a player that said you know what? I'd rather just come back on a one-year deal and prove to myself and the league where I stand."

Last season was a streaky one for the 25-year-old Swedish center. He had no goals or assists in 25 games in the 48-game season, meaning he had 17 goals and 25 points in the other 23 games.

"Patrik's entering that prime of his career right now so if he was looking to go longer, we would have looked to see if there was a common ground there," Armstrong said. "I think a one-year deal is obviously good for both sides on this one. This was more Patrik's feeling than being pushed at by the team."

Berglund, the 25th overall pick in the 2006 draft, is coming off a two-year, $4.5 million contract. His 17 goals were second on the Blues and 25 points were tied for fourth. Though still trying to establish his NHL identity, Berglund has 92 goals and 188 points in 358 career games.

In recent interviews, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has discussed the possibility of using Berglund and/or Blues captain David Backes on the wing.

"I've always seen (Berglund) as a centerman myself, Ken is one that's said he may have some success on the wing," Armstrong said. "I think Patrik has the ability to be a consistent 60-point player. If we take out his (lockout season totals) last year, he was on pace for 29 or 30 goals. As a centerman you'd like to see the assists be a little higher, but I'd like to see goals higher for some of our wingers also."

Armstrong was asked how the Berglund signing affects the team's ability to bring back a glut of high-profile restricted free agents. That list includes forward Chris Stewart, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and goaltender Jake Allen. Defenseman Kris Russell is also a restricted free agent.

"It doesn't really affect anything," Armstrong said. "This is a heavy summer for us as far as having five players up and four that are huge components of our team. We're having talks and communications. Once there's something to be talked about I'll talk about it."

With a current payroll of a little over $49.3 million before signing the rest of their free agents, the Blues still are more than $16 million under the NHL salary cap.

"We're at a very good space with Patrik signed now and the other contracts we have," Armstrong said. "We understand that our internal salary structure is going up and with that goes the expectations of our team, too, which excites me. We want to be viewed as a team that has the expectations to win."

There could be some movement on Blues veteran and unrestricted free agent defenseman Jordan Leopold.

"We've had conversations," Armstrong said. "We respect him as a player and a person and what he brought to our team. If there's way there that we can bring him back to satisfy what his needs are, we'll look to doing that."

Armstrong said teams are just beginning to discuss trades and deals that could go down at the draft, which takes place Sunday in New Jersey.

"Things should pick up maybe on Friday and Saturday, a lot of guys are heading to the New Jersey and New York area in the next 24 to 48 hours," Armstrong said. "I think that there will be a lot of discussions. Last year we thought we were going to be very active at the draft and were looking to do something and we really did nothing at the draft."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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