ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and T.J. Oshie avoided an arbitration hearing Friday after agreeing to a five-year, $20.875 million contract late Thursday night.
The 25-year-old Oshie, who is coming off of career highs in goals (19), assists (35), points (54) and games played (80), was a restricted free agent who made $2.35 million on a one-year contract in 2011-12. He was the Blues' first-round pick (No. 24) in the 2005 NHL Draft. His 54 points were tied for the team lead last season.
"We're obviously excited to have T.J. under contract as he enters the prime of his career and to know that we'll have him through that portion," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "It's very rewarding and we think he's a big piece of our team from last year and he's a big piece moving forward."
St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who is coming off a 54-point season, avoided arbitration Friday by signing a five-year deal with the club. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Blues and Oshie were set to have an arbitration hearing Friday at 10 a.m. ET, when both sides would have presented their respective cases for a contract, which would be either a one- or two-year term of the team's choice. A deal between the two sides at some point leading up to the hearing always seemed like the most likely end result.
"Arbitration is just a tool that both sides have available to them," Armstrong said. "It's just a piece of the process. We exchange briefs and we get an idea where each side is coming from. I think everyone's comfortable with the business side of it that you try not to have any hangover of emotion based on an arbitration hearing.
"We knew today at 9 a.m. (CT), we were going to put T.J.'s fate in someone else's hands and we both decided it was best to try and see if we can work out something together."
After playing in only 49 games during a 2010-11 season that included some off-ice issues, the Blues gave Oshie a one-year deal to prove himself. Oshie proved worthy of a long-term commitment with a solid season that helped the Blues to the second-most points in franchise history with 109. Adding veteran coach Ken Hitchcock also was a catalyst in Oshie's success.
"We certainly thought he had a good, productive season last year," Armstrong said of Oshie. "A lot of the things that we were looking for as far as consistency on the ice, the ability to play 80 games was there. I also think with the coaching change, I think he embraced the new coach and someone with Ken's experience obviously he became a valuable player for our franchise with the amount of ice time he got. He and David Backes mirror each other. We know what David means to our team, so I just felt knowing Ken was here and knowing what T.J. means to the team and how he's coached by Ken just made it a natural movement to get him signed for a longer term as possible and we were able to do that."
Add this contract to the recent signing of David Perron to a four-year deal, and the Blues now have a good portion of their core group under contract for the long term. Defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk will be restricted free agents after the 2012-13 season and are likely the next targets for long-term deals.