Veteran defenseman gets $3.25 million on contract, got
progressively stronger as season went along after hip surgery
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Jay Bouwmeester had no intentions of going on the market. St. Louis is where he's been settled in since 2013 and wants to remain -- apparently -- until his playing days are done.
In a move that caught everyone off guard but with his strong, improved play throughout the course of the season, it's not much of a surprise that the Blues would want the veteran defenseman back in the fold, and general manager Doug Armstrong made the announcement that Bouwmeester would return next season, getting a one-year contract for $3.25 million.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (right) signed a one-year contract
extension for $3.25 million to remain in St. Louis.
Bouwmeester, who was coming off major hip surgery that forced him to miss a good chunk of last season, including the final five weeks -- he only played 35 games -- and start of this season, but coming back was a struggle at the start of the season, he's improved vastly as the season has gone along and been played shutdown D alongside Colton Parayko.
Bouwmeester is finishing off a five-year, $27 million contract that carried a $5.4 million average annual value to it.
"... It's always good. (Talks) kind of went back and forth. Both sides wanted to get something done. Sooner is always better than later I guess."
Armstrong and Bouwmeester had a conversation of extending his career recently and all that it came down to was a matter of dotting the contract details together.
"We started to talk, I would say the end of February a little bit," Armstrong said. "I wasn't sure if he wanted to play. I asked him to take some time to confirm that his body was still up to it. He's played a long time and he came back and said he'd like to play, so I said, 'Let's get to it.' So we started to work towards it. His agent and I have spoken for the better part of three weeks. We put a timeline on wanting to have it done at the start of the postseason. Like most things, when you put a timeline on it, everyone used the maximum time available. We got it done yesterday morning and we're excited."
"We had a conversation early in the year that was good," said Bouwmeester, who had 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 78 games. "Coming into this year, I didn't know how it was going to go or how I was going to feel. So I just approached this year like I'll approach next year. If it's going to go well, I'd like to keep playing and play as long as I can. The situation doesn't really change. I know with my age and the way things are, that's how it goes. If I can still play, I'll try and play."
Bouwmeester could have tested the free agent waters on July 1, but raising a family here with three kids appealed to him and didn't want to uproot this late in his career. Plus, he didn't think there would be a big market for an older d-man.
"Not for a 36-year-old defenseman. I'm happy here, you're familiar with everything here," Bouwmeester said. "There's always a risk if you go somewhere else. You don't know anything. On the hockey side, this place had been really good for family. I've got three kids now, everyone's settled and you really don't want to disrupt that."
As for potentially closing out any other contracts that may be on the burner for potential free agents, Armstrong said there will be no more until after the conclusion of the season, at the earliest.
"As we enter the second season now, we'll have no further contract negotiations or talks with anyone," he said. "This was the only one that was outstanding. We're excited to have that behind us now and we're looking forward to the second season."
Parayko is glad to have his partner back.
"He's unbelievable. He's one of the greats," Parayko said of Bouwmeester. "It's so cool for me to play alongside of him. I've learned from him on and off the ice. I'm happy for him. I'm just excited that I get to play another year with him and get the opportunity to keep learning from him, learning to be a pro and be a proper pro. Obviously he's been elite for so long. There's no surprise and it's no surprise that he's here for this long and the way he goes about things and the way he treats his body and things like that."
* Playoff preparation -- The Blues were back on the practice ice at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall preparing for their best-of-7 series with the Winnipeg Jets, with Game 1 slated for Wednesday at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KYKY 98.1-FM) in Manitoba.
The Blues, for what seems like the first time in an eternity, had all 26 players on the ice, including Parayko and center Tyler Bozak.
Parayko missed the past two games for rest-related purposes, although interim coach Craig Berube said there was a mid-body injury bug there also but more rest, and Bozak was held out of the season-finale as a precaution after he was in a car accident on the way to the game Saturday.
"It's good. It's a lot of fun, but you miss it. It's crazy. It's good," Parayko said of getting the rest. "I'm looking forward to playoffs and that's the best time of the year."
The Blues lines and d-pairs looked like this:
Brayden Schenn-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Oskar Sundqvist-David Perron
Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas
Zach Sanford-Ivan Barbashev-Alexander Steen
extras: Mackenzie MacEachern, Robby Fabbri, Sammy Blais and Chris Thorburn
Vince Dunn-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo
extras: Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Del Zotto
* Tarasenko nets another player of the week honor -- Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko was named the NHL's First Star of the Week, the final week of the regular season, it was announced on Monday.
Tarasenko, who was named the Second Star the week ending Feb. 19, and the seventh time in his career he's been named one of the three stars, had seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games this week helping the Blues go 3-0-1.