Blues give Jay Bouwmeester 5-year extension
The St. Louis Blues’ grand prize from the 2013 trade deadline will be sticking around for quite a while. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, whom the Blues acquired from the Calgary Flames in April, has signed a long-term extension with St. Louis. According to NHL.com correspondent Louie Korac, Bouwmeester’s extension will pay him $27 million over five years.
Bouwmeester, acquired for two prospects and the Blues’ 2013 first-round pick, was exactly what the Blues were looking for. The 6’4″, 212-pound defenseman stepped in opposite Alex Pietrangelo and gave the Blues a pair of defensive stars along the blue line. Bouwmeester contributed 7 points in 14 regular season games, but had just one assist in six playoff games, a series that the Blues lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blues have done a fantastic job locking up their top defensemen for the long run, after signing Kevin Shattenkirk to a 4-year extension worth $17 million and locking up Jordan Leopold for 2 years and $4.5 million.
Combining those two with Bouwmeester, Barrett Jackman, Roman Polak and Ian Cole, that would give the Blues a set of six defensemen any NHL team would be envious of. But their crown jewel, Alex Pietrangelo, still remains unsigned as a restricted free agent. As Brien Rea of insideSTL.com writes, the situation around Pietrangelo is growing more intriguing with every passing day.
The assumption has been that Pietrangelo is the player who we would be hearing about receiving a long-term extension. The cornerstone defenseman to anchor this team into a new era of competitive existence in the NHL. Instead, we’re presented with Bouwmeester. A good defenseman, but 29 years old. When his extension expires, he will be 35.
So now with the glass half-empty, are the Blues having trouble coming to terms on a long-term deal with Pietrangelo? Is the money being demanded simply too much for this franchise to commit? Does Pietrangelo want a short-term deal in order to cash in on his unrestricted free agency status sooner? And is Jay Bouwmeester the long-term backup plan, should the Blues not be able to lock up their cornerstone defenseman at the price they can afford?
The Blues still have a very solid blue line should things not work out with Pietrangelo, but the fourth overall pick from the 2008 draft is the franchise’s top defender and deserves to be paid as so. Should things not work out, the Blues will still be in good shape defensively in light of Bouwmeester’s extension.
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Around the Rink Columnist Joe Ray – @jpray_SK