It appears the tenure of the longest-tenured professional athlete in St. Louis is coming to an end.
Veteran St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman was told by the team he would not be re-signed before becoming an unrestricted free agent July 1, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong confirmed on Friday.
The 34-year-old Jackman has been with the Blues since the 1999 first-round draft pick played in one game during the 2001-02 season. He has spent his entire career with the Blues, scoring 28 goals and 181 points in 803 games along with compiling 1,026 penalty minutes.
Only Hall of Famer Bernie Federko has played in more games in Blues franchise history (927) than Jackman’s 803.
The native of British Columbia, Canada won the NHL’s Calder Trophy, voted on to award the league’s top rookie, in 2002-03 when he had three goals and 19 points and played in all 82 games. Jackman was the NHL’s 17th overall pick in 1999.
Jackman was known for being a physical force on the back end and found himself playing with numerous partners through the years, including Hall of Famer Al MacInnis and superstar Chris Pronger.
Jackman never complained, never made excuses and always displayed a team-first attitude no matter the situation. He also endeared himself to his teammates and coaches by playing through pain and playing hurt at times, especially in the playoffs.
Jackman will be free to sign with another NHL team after July 1 with the Blues receiving no compensation. He just finished a three-year contract worth $9.5 million.
The Blues apparently feel they have at least two potential replacements for Jackman in defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Petteri Lindbohm.
The 26-year-old Bortuzzo was obtained in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ian Cole. A rugged, physical defenseman at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Bortuzzo had one goal, one assist and 25 penalty minutes in 13 games after joining the Blues.
Bortuzzo is a restricted free agent.
Lindbohm, 21, was the Blues’ sixth-round pick in 2012. Called up from the minors because of injuries, Lindbohm (6-3, 210) showed well in 23 games with the Blues last season, contributing a goal, an assist and 26 penalty minutes.
Another top defense prospect is Joel Edmundson, who had four goals and 12 points in 30 games last season with the Blues’ Chicago Wolves farm team.
The Blues’ top priority in the offseason will be negotiating a deal for rising star Vladimir Tarasenko and goaltender Jake Allen, both restricted free agents.