Center inks two-year contract after posting career
numbers in goals, assists, points in third NHL season
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- By signing Patrik Berglund to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, the Blues made sure one of their impending restricted free agents isn't susceptible to an offer sheet.
Especially a player who's stock is on the rise.
Berglund, who turns 23 on Thursday and would have become an RFA on July 1, said upon his exit meeting with the team in April that he'd like to get a contract done "pretty quick."
"That was a big priority for me," Berglund said by conference call Wednesday afternoon. "I wanted to get it done as fast as I could. I wanted to be a part of the team and keep looking forward. I'm taking it step-by-step and I'm really excited to be a part of the team again and I can't wait for next year."
The Blues and general manager Doug Armstrong obliged despite saying there was no real time frame.
"Patrik was just someone, when I was dealing with his representative, the parameters were there for a deal quickly and we just decided to move forward," Armstrong said by conference call Tuesday. "I think in Patrik's case, he's happy to have the contract signed ... he knows what the situation is. He doesn't have to worry about anything over the summer. He can train and focus on preparing himself. He knows that he has a home for the next two years."
The deal will pay Berglund $2.25 million in each of the next two seasons. Once the deal expires, the Vasteras, Sweden native will once again be a restricted free agent.
"I'm really happy with the contract," Berglund said. "I can't wait to spend the next two years with the Blues."
The contract is along similar parameters of one signed by David Perron last summer.
"I believe, coming out of that first contract, the shorter-term deals are both beneficial to the team and the player," Armstrong said. "I think what this does, it allows Patrik to define himself as a player. He'll have five years of NHL experience when this deal is done and he'll be entering that next phase of his career. I think the two-year deal really helps solidify his position not only on our team but in the league."
Berglund completed his third season with the Blues by setting career highs in games played (81), goals (22), assists (30) and points (52) in addition to leading the club with a career best eight power play goals.
"I want to be a player that the team can count on in every situation," Berglund said. "I'm going to keep working hard, I'm going to keep developing myself.
"I'm not stopping at all. I want to be as good as I can. I know I still have a lot of things to learn, but I feel like I'm headed in the right direction."
Berglund also earned a Silver Medal with Team Sweden and was named to the tourney's all-star team at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, which was completed in early May. In nine games, Berglund was second among all skaters in points (10), goals (8) and plus-minus (+7).
"It was obviously a great experience for me," Berglund said. "I got a big role and also was an assistant captain. This was a big experience for me to have the 'A' on my chest. We had a really young team, too, so I feel like I had to take a lot of responsibility out there on the ice.
"It was a great experience and I hope to bring that to St. Louis as well."
"Patrik has been with our team for three years now, and we really think that he's starting to mature as a player and come into his own," Armstrong said. "His third season was obviously his best season in our opinion and we think that he's just starting to hit his stride. As our team matures, Patrik matures with it, and we think he's going to be a big piece of our team moving forward."
The 6-foot-4, 218-pound forward has appeared in 228 games for the Blues during his three-year NHL career, collecting 125 points on 56 goals and 69 assists. He was originally drafted by the Blues in the first round, 25th overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
"Just the progression he made last year, he understands that he has a chance to be a top-six forward on our team," Armstrong said. "I thought the way he finished his season and then went into the World Championships and continued that, he understands that he's now just starting the prime of his career. The one thing talking to Patrik at the end of the season and over at the World Championships, he wants to not only be a player in the NHL, but he wants to be an important player on a winning franchise. We're excited that he has those goals."
With Berglund in the fold, Armstrong was asked on the progression on the remaining free agents, most notably T.J. Oshie. The Blues' GM did not want to comment nor speculate when/if deals get done.
"I don't want to publicly comment on the negotiations," Armstrong said. "That's been my platform. Not because I'm trying to be secretive. I don't like playing with the emotions of our fans by misleading them that you're closer or further away than you really are.
"We certainly are in contact with our players and we're trying to move ahead to get players signed. But again, there's no rush on our side and I don't think there's any rush on the players' side. We have a lot of time until training camp."
The Blues' remaining RFA's include Oshie, B.J. Crombeen, Roman Polak, Matt D'Agostini, Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan Reaves, Nikita Nikitin, Tyson Strachan, Ben Bishop, Adam Cracknell, T.J. Hensick and Nicholas Drazenovic.
"There's no real pattern to getting these players signed," Armstrong said. "We have contact with all the players and some negotiations go quicker than others. But I'm very confident that everyone will be signed by training camp and be in here."
* NOTE -- Oshie, Barret Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo, Alex Pietrangelo, Ben Bishop, Tyson Strachan and Philip McRae are teaming up with the United Way and St. Louis Area Foodbank to host a food drive to support families in Joplin affected by the recent tornado.
The food drive will be held today at Scottrade Center from 4-7 p.m. The players will be joined by KSHE 95’s Favazz, who will broadcast live from Scottrade Center during the drive.
Fans can drop donated items off at the 14th & Clark entrance. The players will be on hand to collect items and greet fans during this time. All fans that donate will receive a free ticket to a 2011 Blues preseason game. In addition, for a small donation, fans can also have their photo taken on the Olympia, aka the Zamboni.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank recommends donations of any canned goods that can be considered a complete meal like peanut butter, soups and canned tuna or chicken. In a crisis like this, needs change every day. Those impacted may not know what to expect from day to day or long term.
Also, Northern Edge Elite Hockey has offered to serve as an alternate drop off location for anyone in the West St. Louis County area that may not be able to make it downtown today. Food donations can be dropped off at the Northern Edge office today from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Northern Edge employees will deliver the donations to Scottrade Center today.
For more information on the food drive and a complete list of items needed, visit www.stlouisblues.com.