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Blues deal captain to Lightning @NHL

ST. LOUIS (AP) - With an uncertain future in St. Louis and a chance to join a playoff contender, defenseman Eric Brewer dropped his no-trade clause and allowed the Blues to send him to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

In exchange for trading their captain, the Blues got an opportunity to rebuild through youth by acquiring defenseman Brock Beukeboom, an unsigned draft pick, and a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.

The trade was made after Blues general manager Doug Armstrong outlined his plans in a meeting with Brewer this week, after which the player and his agent, Don Meehan, expressed interest in the Lightning.

"I was quite honest with Eric, where we are in the standings. It's an uphill battle," Armstrong said in a conference call, as his team was in Buffalo preparing to play the Sabres. "It gives Eric a chance to go to a Stanley Cup-contending team that has a chance to play into June. It allows him to show his worth and it allows us to get some things for the future."

The Blues (25-21-9) sit in 13th place in the Western Conference standings, and nine points behind eighth-place Los Angeles. Brewer is completing the final year of a four-year, $17 million contract and eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Southeast Division-leading Lightning (34-18-6) are enjoying a turnaround behind young star forward Steven Stamkos. In Brewer they got an opportunity to add veteran depth to their blue line.

Armstrong said dealing Brewer opens the opportunity for young defenseman Nikita Nikitin and Ian Cole to get more playing time.

The 31-year-old Brewer played 332 games over six seasons with St. Louis. He had eight goals and six assists with a plus-1 rating in 54 games this season after being slowed by injuries the previous two years.

Brewer said he enjoyed playing for the Blues and was open to re-signing with the team this offseason.

"I think in the end, you just want to make a good decision for everyone and put yourself in a really good spot to play hockey for a long time," Brewer said. "Playing in Tampa will certainly change that this year."

The 20-year-old Beukeboom is playing for Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL for the third straight season and has eight points and 54 penalty minutes in 44 games this season. He's the son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Beukeboom and was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft.

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