ST. LOUIS -- Instead of allowing Jay Bouwmeester to play out the final year of his contract and risk losing him to free agency, the St. Louis Blues locked up one of their top defensemen beyond the 2013-14 season with a contract that will take him well into his 30s.
The Blues extended Bouwmeester on Thursday, agreeing with the Edmonton, Alberta native on a five-year, $27 million contract, an average annual value of $5.4 million that begins with the 2014-15 season.
Bouwmeester, who has one year remaining at $6.6 million from a five-year, $33.4 million contract signed with the Calgary Flames in 2009, was acquired by the Blues on April 1 in a trade for minor-league defenseman Mark Cundari, the rights to goalie prospect Reto Berra, and a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Electing to not play out the final year of his contract and head for perhaps a bigger payday, Bouwmeester said he felt comfortable from the moment he got to St. Louis and was eager to work out an extension and not test the free-agent market next summer.
"[The Blues] mentioned something at the end of the year that at some point over the summer they'd be in touch, throw things around and see where everyone's at," Bouwmeester said. "... It helped that we got on a pretty good roll and won a bunch of games. That makes things more fun and easier for everyone.
"The fact that it's a real good young team, it seems like that they've got pretty much everyone signed now through at least the next couple of years. You've got that nucleus of guys that probably aren't going anywhere. I had a lot of fun being part of it."