BLUES EXTRAS

Oshie, Blues agree on contract extension

2011-06-30T08:55:00Z 2011-06-30T12:37:15Z Oshie, Blues agree on contract extensionBY JEREMY RUTHERFORD stltoday.com
June 30, 2011 8:55 am  • 

Blues forward T.J. Oshie and the Blues have agreed to a one-year contract extension.

The deal will pay Oshie $2.35 million for the 2011-12 season.

"It was something that we were working on for a while, since the season ended," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "I think it's a contract that I believe is right in a lot of ways. With the arbitration rights (Oshie) had, he obviously had different rights than some of the other players we've negotiated with at this point."

Oshie could have filed for salary arbitration on July 5. By agreeing to the deal today, he and the Blues avoid arbitration and they also avoid Oshie becoming a restricted free agent. The free-agent window opens at 11 a.m. Friday, after which Oshie could have signed an offer-sheet with another team, although the Blues would have been able to match the offer.

"I couldn't be happier," Oshie said. "Glad to be back in St. Louis. I always knew that was going to be the end result ... just come to a number. I'm very excited. Now I can just focus on working out."

Asked if he considered thinking about the possibility of signing an offer sheet or taking the Blues to arbitration, Oshie said, "A little bit, but I think mostly, I just wanted to sign and just wanted to get here. I couldn't imagine playing anywhere else. I'm very happy with it and glad it's done."

The focus of the contract from a fans' perspective has been the length, or lack there of. Oshie and the Blues settled on one year because the club was unwilling to pay top dollar on a long-term contract until the forward establishes his identity in the NHL. In three seasons with the Blues, he's missed chunks of two years with ankle injuries.

Last year, Oshie sat out for 31 games with a broken ankle, and finished with 12 goals and 34 points in 49 games. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-10.

"I think coming off the injury (last season), it's important that T.J. come in an establish himself with a healthy season and contribute at the 75-plus game mark," Armstrong said. "Then we'll move on looking at a longer-term deal after that. It gives him obviously some security on a one-year. The compensation is fair, I think, for both sides. But it allows him to continue to put that one full season together that will really show that his health is nothing to be concerned about." 

Oshie said today that he realizes signing a one-year deal puts the onus on him to have a productive season.

"I started working out a good month earlier than I usually do, and I'm working hard," Oshie said. "I'm having the best summer of my career so far and hopefully that will lead to the best year."

* * *

The Blues and Matt D'Agostini are still negotiating after the club decided not to make a qualifying offer for the forward who was third on the team in goals this past season.

On Monday, the Blues passed on the chance to retain D'Agostini's rights, primarily because by not making the qualifying offer, the club avoids the risk of the case going to arbitration.

D'Agostini's career-high 21 goals were nine more than his previous high and his 46 points were 25 more than his previous best. Using comparables around the NHL, D'Agostini would have a good shot at winning his arbitration case.

But by not qualifying him, D'Agostini will go from being a restricted free agent to an unrestricted free agent if unsigned before Friday. It appeared that he might be headed to the free-agent market, but Steve Bartlett, D'Agostini's agent, said Wednesday that negotiations have continued.

"Still talking and hopeful we can get it done," Bartlett said via text message to the Post-Dispatch.

The Blues have two other key players headed for restricted free agency in goaltender Ben Bishop and forward Ryan Reaves.

Armstrong has said that the club still has not decided who will be the backup goalie next season, and it appears the Blues will make that decision before finalizing a contract. Bishop has played three full seasons with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria.

Reaves has an opportunity to take over a physical role for the Blues next season, but the restricted free agent is also unsigned.

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