Armstrong happy with one-year deal for Berglund

Wednesday, 06.26.2013 / 12:25 PM
Louie Korac  - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When a player is negotiating the parameters of a new contract, long-term security and money are big factors.

St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund, apparently, is the exception to the norm.

The Blues announced Wednesday that they have reached agreement with Berglund on a one-year contract, reportedly valued at $3.25 million. Berglund, 25, would have been a restricted free agent had he not signed by July 5.

Berglund, whose 17 goals in 2012-13 were second on the team to Chris Stewart's 18, chose a one-year deal rather than push for a longer-term contract, with the hope that he can parlay a solid 2013-14 into a grander deal next summer when he again will be a restricted free agent.

"When I talked to Patrik and his agent [Peter Wallen], we talked about different lengths, and Patrik felt that a one-year deal was something he was most comfortable with," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said on a conference call Wednesday. "I think that he believes that he wanted to come back and have a very good season and take his game to another level. 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 to the League where I stand.'"

Armstrong and the Blues are no strangers to handing one-year deals to their pending restricted free agents. They did so with T.J. Oshie for the 2011-12 season, and Oshie went out and had a career season in goals (19), assists (35) and points (54). In the summer of 2012, he signed a five-year, $20.875 million deal. Stewart got the same treatment last season, signing for $3 million. He promptly led the Blues in goals and points (36), and can cash in this summer as a restricted free agent.

"We're more open to discussing some term with Chris now," Armstrong said. "We're in conversations with all these players. We don't want to get into greater detail, but at the end of the day, he was our leading scorer. And you look at his numbers over his career, I think the next challenge for Chris is to smooth out the edges, meaning becoming a consistent player, not only on a year-to-year basis but on a nightly or a weekly basis. When you put all our numbers together, he led the St. Louis Blues in goal-scoring and points. We don't lose sight of that, either."

For Berglund, who had 25 points in 48 games in 2012-13, it's his turn to benefit as he prepares for his sixth season.

"I think that 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 common ground there," Armstrong said. "The good thing for us and for Patrik is that he can come back. He's on a one-year deal and we'll be back at this spot again next year as a restricted free agent. If both parties are willing, we can go with a long-term deal then.

"I start these by asking the player what's important to them. There's a number of things that go in there."

The Blues have a number of restricted free agents they still need to take care of. At the top of the list are defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, along with Stewart, defenseman Kris Russell and goalie Jake Allen.

"We're having constant communication," Armstrong said on the progress of the others. "… When there's something to be talked about, I'll talk about it. Other than that, all these guys are fluid and we hope to get them all signed as soon as possible. It could take a while or it could become very quickly."

With Berglund's situation settled, Armstrong can move on to working on his other important impending free agents.

"This was a heavy summer for us as far as having five players up and four players that are huge components of our team in Shattenkirk and [Pietrangelo] on the back end, with Kris Russell also needing a contract and then you have [Berglund and Stewart]," Armstrong said. "A one-year deal [with Berglund] is going to be good. It's obviously good for both sides. I would imagine the other guys will try to get a little bit more term, two or more years, but at the end of the day, they all can opt for one-year deals ... you never know. I think this was more Patrik's feeling than being pushed at it by the team."

Armstrong also talked about the potential of bringing in other free agents.

"We're going to wait and let the pool fill up and then take a look at all the possible ways to improve our team," Armstrong said.

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