Blues forward T.J. Oshie says he's thrilled to now have long-term security with the organization, but with his new contract comes heightened expectations.
Late Thursday night, Oshie signed a five-year extension with the Blues that will pay him $20.875 million, for an average of $4.175 million. The deal allowed the winger and the club to avoid an arbitration hearing that was set to take place at 9 a.m. Friday.
"I couldn't be any happier to re-sign with the Blues," Oshie said. "It's where I've grown as a player and as a pro. As far as the long-term security goes, it's something that I've never had in my career ... so it's nice to have that security, but I still want to keep getting better every day and definitely every year."
In 2011-12, Oshie scored a career-high 19 goals and shared the team lead in points with David Backes with 54. After playing out a one-year, $2.35 million contract last season, his increase will be approximately $1.8 million per year. The breakdown of Oshie's five-year deal is as follows: $3.375 million in 2012-13, $4 million in 2013-14, $4.5 million in 2014-15, $4.5 million in 2015-16 and $4.5 million in 2016-17.
When the deal was struck, both the Blues and Oshie were in Toronto, readying themselves for Friday's arbitration hearing. If the two sides hadn't come to an agreement, the amount of compensation would have been decided by an arbitrator after hearing the case. On Thursday night, general manager Doug Armstrong and Oshie's representatives, including agent Matt Oates, were provided "briefings" highlighting each other's key points in the case.
"I definitely wanted to get a deal done," Oshie said. "St. Louis is where I want to be and it's where I want to be for a long time. So that was my No. 1 goal. But after reading the team's briefs and the briefs that the (National Hockey League Players' Association) put together, I was fine with the way it would have went there, too. It's kind of a roll of the dice, depending what the arbitrator wants to do. But at the same time, my No. 1 goal was to get a long-term deal and to solidify myself in the core group of this team for a long time."
Of avoiding arbitration, Armstrong said: "We knew today that at 9 a.m. (Friday), 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 could work out something together."
Oshie plans to resume skating soon. He dealt with a minor knee injury in the second round of the playoffs, stemming from a hit by LA Kings captain Dustin Brown. But the winger said Friday that it hasn't affected his off-ice workouts this summer and he doesn't expect any problems when he returns to the ice.
"I'm still doing the heavy leg workouts," Oshie said. "I haven't gotten into the agility yet, which is the big thing that I do in the summer ... but this next week is going to be my first week getting back on that."
Oshie also acknowledged Friday that surgery was considered — but not elected — this offseason on each of his wrists. Oshie suffered injuries to his ECU tendons in both wrists, one in November and the other in December. The injury involves the wrist tendon sliding in and out of its groove when it becomes stressed, a somewhat common injury among athletes. Oshie missed two games in December after suffering the ECU injury in his left wrist.
"I didn’t have surgery this summer like I thought I was going to," Oshie said. "Turned out not to be the case. I got it checked a couple of times after the season. I got a couple of different opinions. All around, no one wanted to do surgery and the end result was it didn’t make sense to do surgery and take myself out of training for possibly a 6-10 week period.
"My right one is fully healed. That was the first one that went in November. My left one that happened right before Christmas is getting up to 100 percent."