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Blues sign Alexander Steen to four-year extension

$23 million contract keeps forward in St. Louis through 2020-21 season

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Forward Alexander Steen signed a four-year, $23 million contract extension with the St. Louis Blues on Friday.

Steen, 32, is entering his ninth season with the Blues after they acquired him in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 24, 2008. He was second on the Blues in assists (35) and points (52), and fifth in goals (17) last season. He also had four goals and six assists in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time in 15 years.

The extension, which has an average annual value of $5.75 million, will begin next in the 2017-18 season after the expiration of his current three-year contract, which carries a salary-cap charge of $5.8 million.

"I'm extremely happy to be staying in St. Louis," Steen said after the Blues opened training camp on Friday. "Obviously it's become my home now. I feel extremely attached to St. Louis and the community. It was very important to us.

"When we talked a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I wanted to be here. I think that was something that was mutual and made things fairly easy. We're extremely happy and very grateful to [Blues chairman Tom Stillman] and the ownership group, [general manager Doug Armstrong] and the whole management group and the coaching staff and obviously my teammates. It would have been extremely tough to leave here. Now I don't have to worry about that."

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: BREAKING NEWS: Alexander Steen has signed a four-year extension with the #stlblues through the 2020-21 season.

Steen has appeared in 493 regular-season games with the Blues and ranks 11th in club history with 355 points (147 goals, 208 assists). He had NHL career-highs with 33 goals in 2013-14 and 64 points in 2014-15.

In 11 NHL seasons, the Winnipeg native has 481 points (197 goals, 284 assists) in 746 NHL games, and 24 point (10 goals, 14 assists) in 51 playoff games.

Steen, who will make $7 million in 2017-18, $7 million in 2018-19, $5.5 million in 2019-20 and $3.5 million in 2020-21, is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is on schedule to play in the regular-season opener at the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 12.

Armstrong felt that going into the final year of Steen's current contract, which pays him $6.5 million, he wanted to get this deal done as quickly as possible.

"When we talked last year, and even when the season was over, we both said if we could get it wrapped up so it wasn't a distraction going into the season, that would be great," Armstrong said. "We had some conversations when he got back, and he had put a lot of work into trying to get ready for the World Cup. When he wasn't able to pull that off, we had some conversations with his representative here in Toronto at the World Cup and it finished quickly, but it was a four-, five-month process that we went through to get to where we are today.

"It's always nice to have these done before training camp or before the season because it just removes a distraction from Alexander and his teammates."

The fact that Steen is taking a contract with a slightly lower salary-cap charge shows his appreciation for the Blues, who believed in him when they traded for him.

"I don't think I could have seen myself throwing anything on over my shoulders other than a Blue note right now," Steen said. "It takes some time to grow attached like this. For me, it's nothing that I take lightly, and I'm extremely happy that I'm staying here."

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Steen bangs home juicy rebound

After losing lost veteran forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer to free agency during the offseason, the Blues wanted to keep Steen to help build with their youth, including Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri.

"It's a great day for the St. Louis Blues and our organization," Armstrong said. "Alexander has been a big part of our franchise since he arrived here. His desire to be a part of something to build and winning and hopefully win a championship here in St. Louis, it comes through in a situation like this. We all know that free agency was an option for him, but he stepped up over the course of the summer and even our conversations last year made it clear that he wanted to try and find a solution to stay in St. Louis. From our perspective, we made it very clear that he was a player we wanted to keep here in St. Louis. He's a big part of our leadership group now and into the future."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, entering the final season of his career, has always felt like having Steen on the team is like having another coach.

"There's certain players that raise the intellect level on your team as far as hockey sense, as far as smarts on the ice, as far as playing the game the right way," Hitchcock said. "We're able to show him off to a lot of younger players. He's a really good example to a lot of younger players on how to play the game the right way, how to prepare off the ice, how to stay fit, how to take care of yourself in every aspect. So it becomes a very easy sell for us as a coaching staff because we've got a guy, 'Hey, just follow this guy and you're going to be all right.'"

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