Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blues sign Halak day after goalie chose not to file for arbitration

Colaiacovo officially signs two-year contract;
Janssen also agrees to one-year deal

ST. LOUIS -- On Monday, Jaroslav Halak chose not to file for salary arbitration. On Tuesday, the answer why was clear, cut and understandable.

Halak, a restricted free agent acquired by the Blues via trade on June 17, avoided any contract and arbitration issues by signing a four-year, $15-million extension.

The Blues made it a busy day by also re-signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year, $4.25 million contract and coming to terms with restricted free agent forward Cam Janssen.

Halak, 25, will have a cap hit of $3.75 million per season, but his salary breakdown is $2.75 million for the upcoming season, $3.5 million in 2011-12, $4.25 million in 2012-13 and $4.5 million in 2013-14.

"It's really good. I want to say thank you to (Blues general manager) Doug Armstrong," Halak said from his native Slovakia. "He gave me the confidence and also the whole St. Louis organization. From the very beginning, I was hoping that we would sign with them and I'm real happy that it happened that way."

Halak was salary-arbitration eligible but chose not to file by Monday's deadline in what appears to be a good-faith gesture to try and get something done with the team that acquired him.

"These things were handled by my agent (LA-based Allan Walsh of Octagon Inc.) and they were in contact with St. Louis from the very beginning," Halak said. "They made a commitment when I was traded. I was real happy we didn't have to go to arbitration and we made a deal.

"I was hoping from the very beginning that we will make a deal."

In 101 career games, Halak is 56-34-7 with a .919 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average. He was 26-13-5 this past season with a 2.40 GAA and .940 save percentage and five shutouts.

He was originally drafted by the Canadiens in the ninth round (271st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

"When I got the news (of the trade), I was a little bit surprised but also happy because from the very beginning, St. Louis made me real welcome," said Halak, who has not been to St. Louis since the trade was consummated.

Armstrong and Walsh were to meet at the NHL Draft in Los Angeles but were able to hammer out a contract in recent days.

"When we got down to it on the weekend, it seemed to move relatively quickly," Armstrong said. "There were certain things important to the team and certain things important for Jaro. We were able to bridge whatever gaps were there and were able to get a contract that I think fairly reflects his value for the first two years as a player that would have arbitration rights and a player that would be unrestricted."

The Blues brought back Colaiacovo, 27, who recorded a career-high 32 points in 67 games a season ago.

Colaiacovo attracted offers from a handful of other clubs but ultimately chose St. Louis, where he wanted to remain all along.

"I'm ecstatic," Colaiacovo said. "I'm happy things worked out with the team where I wanted to be. Management has done a great job preparing this team for the coming season."

Having Colaiacovo -- acquired in 2008 from Toronto -- back in the fold, the Blues' blue line is becoming more clearer heading into the new season.

"Getting Carlo signed was a big addition for our group," Armstrong said.

Armstrong also indicated that he does not rule out the possibility of the Blues bringing back defenseman Mike Weaver, also an unrestricted free agent.

The Blues also came to terms with Janssen, 26, who filed for filed for salary arbitration.

"He has one of the most difficult jobs in all of sports," Armstrong said of Janssen. "He does it very well. He also is an excellent teammate. ... His personality is very strong in our room and in our community."

Janssen, who along with Halak and D.J. King were restricted free agents that were also salary arbitration eligible, was seeking a multi-year contract.

"I'd rather be here than try to get more money out of someone else," said Janssen, a Eureka, Mo. native. "St. Louis is my home and always will be."

It is unlikely that the Blues will keep both Janssen and King -- who did not file for salary arbitration. Armstrong did not rule it out, though.

"I've got to worry about myself and not what they're going to do with someone else," Janssen said.

As for contract negotiations with restricted free agents David Perron, Erik Johnson and King, Armstrong's job becomes a little easier as the dominoes begin to fall.

"Now that there's more pieces of that puzzle in place, it does clear the picture of how I can allocate some more of our resources," he said. "We want to get all of our guys signed and in here. Talks are progressing. ... We still have quite a bit of work ahead of us."

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