Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Agents optimistic clients will resign with Blues

Oshie, D'Agostini can become free agents Friday if unsigned; Kariya retires

ST. LOUIS -- Unless a deal can be struck between the two sides, T.J. Oshie and Matt D'Agostini will go into Friday as free agents -- Oshie as a restricted and D'Agostini as an unrestricted.

Both are still on the Blues' radar and both sides continue to discuss parameters of new deals, respectively.

T.J. Oshie scored 12 goals and added 34 points last season (Getty Images)
D'Agostini's agent Steve Bartlett said a couple days ago that he continues to negotiate with the Blues and general manager Doug Armstrong. Oshie's agent, Matt Oates, said Wednesday he's optimistic he can get his client signed.
"Doug and I have been talking a lot over the past couple of days, and things are going well," Oates said.

The free agency period opens Friday at 11 a.m. (St. Louis time) so if Oshie, 24, doesn't agree to a contract with the Blues, he is susceptible to getting offer sheets from other clubs despite the Blues holding his rights. The club can match any offer from another team and compensation would be determined by what an offer may bring. 

Oshie also has arbitration rights and can stake his case in court with a third-party judge and has until July 5 to decide if he will go that avenue. He made $850,000 in base salary last season and $1.275 million with bonuses.

Oshie has had his ups and downs in a Blues uniform since the team drafted him in the first round (24th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. His play on the ice can be elecrtifying and it's made him an important commodity and a fan favorite.

Oshie's coming off a 12-goal, 34-point season in 49 games last year, but he missed 31 games after suffering a broken left ankle in November. In 182 games, Oshie has 44 goals and 121 points during his three seasons in the NHL.

Oshie, who hasn't eclipsed the 50-point mark in any of his three seasons, also missed two games last season after being benched for conduct detrimental to the team. He also missed a good chunk of his rookie season with a high ankle sprain.

"I'm very comfortable where we're at with T.J.," Armstrong said earlier this week. "... You get deals done when everybody feels comfortable. I'm very comfortable that T.J. Oshie is going to be a St. Louis Blue, very comfortable we'll find common ground there."

On Monday, the Blues chose not to give D'Agostini, 24, a qualifying offer, making eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday. He would have been a restricted free agent had the Blues given D'Agostini a qualifying offer.

D'Agostini is coming off his best season, scoring 21 goals and adding 46 points after playing in all 82 games last season.

"I think we're still working on it in good faith," D'Agostini's agent Steve Bartlett said Monday. "Our first hope is to get something done (with the Blues). We had several good conversations, and we'll continue to have good conversations."

* Kariya retires -- Former Blue Paul Kariya has decided to hang the skates up after a 15-year career in the NHL because of multiple concussions.

Kariya, 36, sat out last season after playing the third season of a three-year , $18-million contract he signed with the Blues in the summer of 2007.

Kariya, who scored 36 goals and finished with 123 points in a Blues uniform, played 168 of his 989 career NHL games here in St. Louis. Kariya's best seasons were in Anaheim. He also played in Colorado and Nashville prior to joining the Blues. He finished with 402 goals and 989 career points and is a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Kariya used some strong words towards the league in reference towards their stance on head injuries and more specific, concussion-related issues (see story here:

Kariya, who's suffered some notable hits in his career from the likes of Scott Stevens and Gary Suter, saw his final concussion come at the hands of Buffalo's Patrik Kaleta here at Scottrade Center on Dec. 27, 2009.

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