Deal with Tampa bay also includes 2014 fifth
round pick, nets fourth round picks in 2013 and 2014
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues shuffled the deck of their forward mix on Tuesday by resigning veteran winger Jamie Langenbrunner and trading popular winger B.J. Crombeen to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 36-year-old Langenbrunner, who was an unrestricted free agent after playing the first of his 17 seasons with the Blues, gets a one-year deal for $1.5 million which includes $250,000 in performance bonuses. The Blues then turned around and flipped Crombeen to the Lightning along with a 2014 fifth round pick in exchange for Tampa Bay's fourth round picks in 2013 and 2014.
Jamie Langenbrunner will return for an 18th season in the NHL after
resigning with the Blues on Tuesday.
Langenbrunner had six goals and 24 points in 70 games with the Blues a season ago. He has a probable spot on the Blues' fourth line alongside Scott Nichol in the middle and Vladimir Sobotka on the left side. He will also provide invaluable leadership once again after it helped vault the Blues up the Western Conference standings last season.
"Bringing Jamie back was something that we looked to do since the season ended," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "Jamie came in and his work ethic and his professionalism and his ability to help a group trying to push to a new level was instrumental in our season and we think he'll be a real good piece of the puzzle moving forward next season.
"I would say at 37 (on July 24th), he's not on the upswing of his career. But as I said, we don't envision him like we did last year coming in here as a top six forward. But there's a role for many different elements than just scoring a goal to having a successful team. We think he provides a lot of those things that are necessary to win."
Langenbrunner, a two-time Stanley Cup champion (with Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003), signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Blues on July 6th last year. His preference was always to return here despite testing the free agent waters.
"I think they had some things they had to do, and for me, I wanted to see exactly where things stood and weigh them against what I knew I had there (in St. Louis)," Langenbrunner said. "As I said from the beginning, I enjoyed being in St. Louis. It was always my first choice. I wasn't in a big hurry or anything like that, just making sure that it made sense for both people and went through the process of it.
"... I always want to contribute more. I don't think they sign a lot of guys to talk in the locker room very often, so I know I have to perform and play. I think a lot of good things were accomplished last year as a team, but we've got a ways to go and we realize that ... continue to improve, guys having better seasons and I'm included in that mix."
Armstrong said it was more about Langenbrunner being an effective player first and foremost, then leading by example takes over.
"They have to be players on the ice first and foremost. If you can't perform on the ice, then the leadership and those things are difficult to put into the room," Armstrong said. "We still think Jamie's got some good hockey left in him. But part of his fabric is his leadership and his personality. ... He's a winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He captained Team USA to the Olympics in 2010. Having those character people in your organization is strong as we continue to develop and grow."
With the signing of Langenbrunner and the emergence of Ryan Reaves a season ago, it made Crombeen expendable and gave the Blues a glutton of forwards on the backend.
Crombeen, who turned 27 today, played in only 40 games last season -- his fourth with the Blues after being claimed on waivers from Dallas in 2008 -- after injuring his left shoulder in the preseason.
"You never wake up on your birthday expecting something like that, but that's the nature of the business," said Crombeen, who had a goal and two assists a year ago. "It will definitely be one that I will always remember.
"Obviously you know it's part of the business and it's something that can happen any day at any time. You're never really expecting that call, but you know it can always come. It was something that kind of came up quick and went together pretty quick. It was mixed emotions when you hear it. Obviously St. Louis has been great to me. I enjoyed all my time there from every level, but at the same time, it's a new opportunity and a fresh start and it's something that I'm really looking forward to."
B.J. Crombeen (left) saw his four-year run in St. Louis end on Tuesday
after being traded to Tampa Bay.
Armstrong wanted to give Crombeen a chance to play and figured the best place to do that would be to move him elsewhere.
"We have 13 players now that we believe are NHL players on our roster right now," Armstrong said. "Two things. One, the emergence of Ryan Reaves I thought played a big part in this. Also, we think that (Peoria enforcer) Anthony Peluso is a player that can fill some of those responsibilities that B.J. had over time and he's going to get a very good chance in training camp to come in here and push for a roster spot, too. Where B.J. was at in his career, too, I don't think he wanted to be a part of a (backend) group of 13. I think Tampa Bay's a really good fit for him. He can go in there and probably get penciled into a roster spot on opening night and make the most out of that situation. Hopefully for everyone involved, it's something that will work out for Tampa and work out for St. Louis, but I do think Ryan Reaves and Anthony Peluso being on our reserve list and under contract helped facilitate this deal and getting Jamie back ... having Jamie resign, it certainly solidifies our right wing."
Crombeen will be reunited with former Blue Eric Brewer, who was traded to Tampa Bay in 2011 for defensive prospect Brock Beukeboom and a 2012 third round pick.
"I haven't spoken to Brew yet but I know from talking to him before, he indicated it was a great group of guys down there and they get along well and I'm looking forward to being a part of that," said Crombeen, who had 49 points in 265 games with the Blues. "They've got a lot of skill up front and a lot of good players, high-end players on their team. Looking at what I can bring, it looks like it can be a good fit."
Crombeen, whose wife Janet is expecting the couple's second child, will miss the camaraderie of the close-knit Blues locker room.
"We did have a real great group of guys," Crombeen said. "They still have a great group of guys. It was a lot of fun to be a part of them. I'm definitely going to miss all of them on that level."
* NOTE -- Armstrong said that the salary arbitration hearing between the Blues and T.J. Oshie has been set for July 20. The two sides will continue to talk about a contract extension but are prepared to go and have an arbitrator settle the case.
"Both sides are open to talk, but both sides are prepared for that arbitration of we have to get to it," Armstrong said.