Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blues sign defenseman Huskins to one-year contract

Veteran played for San Jose last two seasons, adds depth to backline

ST. LOUIS -- Wanting to add depth to their defensive corps, the Blues added veteran left-hander Kent Huskins, signing the 32-year-old to a one-year, $1 million contract Saturday.

Huskins, 32, spend the last two seasons with the San Jose Sharks after spending the first three years of his career with the Anaheim Ducks, winning a Stanley Cup in 2007 along with the Blues' Andy McDonald.

Kent Huskins (40) adds depth to the Blues' defensive unit.    (Getty Images)

"Obviously he's coming from a winning program," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "The last two teams he's played on, he's played deep into the playoffs (and) won a Stanley Cup. He knows what it's going to take to get a team to the next level. He's got experience and he's got a big body back there that can help that younger core group."

Huskins played in 50 games with the Sharks last season, who lost in five games to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference finals. He scored two goals and added eight assists. The Almonte, Ontario native missed the final 22 regular season games and first 13 games of the playoffs with a shoulder injury but returned against the Canucks in the playoffs.

"He got hurt at the wrong time, he missed going into the playoffs but he got back in and played in the playoffs," Armstrong said of Huskins. "It's not something that we're concerned about."

Huskins, who has 11 goals and 60 points in 274 career games, will likely be the favorite as the team's sixth defenseman behind Alex Pietrangelo, Barret Jackman, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carlo Colaiacovo and Roman Polak. But Huskins will get competition from Nikita Nikitin. Prospect Ian Cole will round out the top eight on the depth chart.

"I think it will be good competition for all four of those guys on the left side," Armstrong said, referring to Huskins, Jackman, Colaiacovo and Nikitin. "There's an old saying in the NHL that you can never have too many defensemen. You need seven or eight competent NHL players to get through a season and now we feel very comfortable that we have eight. He's a little different with his experience and I think he can provide that competition on that left side and also leadership."

Huskins is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and is a plus-43 in his career. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (156th overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

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