Monday, June 18, 2012

Blues bring back veteran Jackman

Defenseman, set to become UFA on July 1, gets a three-year, $9.5 million deal

ST. LOUIS -- Barret Jackman may be a British Columbia native, but St. Louis has been home for the last decade.

Jackman is going to stay home.

The veteran defenseman, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has resigned with the organization that selected him 17th overall. It's a three-year contract worth $9.5 million, an annual cap hit of $3.16 million.
(Getty Images)
Barret Jackman will continue to call St. Louis home.

Jackman, 31, was picked in the first round by the Blues in 1999 and is the longest-tenured Blue as well as the longest-tenured professional athlete among St. Louis teams.

Jackman expressed his desire to remain here at season's end but was prepared for anything. That won't be necessary now.

"It's nice to get it over with and know exactly where I'm going to be," Jackman said. "I'm not going to free agency or house hunting. I think St. Louis is the best fit for everybody.

"It really only took a few days of talks with (Blues general manager Doug Armstrong). The organization was great with me. We had a couple of conversations about my role and where I fit in. St. Louis was obviously my first choice and we were easily able to get the deal done and now I look forward to next season."

Jackman had arguably one of his best NHL seasons for the Blues in 81 games last season, playing the majority of that season alongside of promising young d-man Kevin Shattenkirk. He recording 13 points (one goal, 12 assists). Jackman tied for second on the club with a +20 rating and led the team in blocked shots (153) and shorthanded time on ice per game (3:26).

There was some debate whether the Blues would bring Jackman and fellow defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo back. It left a void along the left side of the defensive unit, but with Jackman, who completed a four-year, $14.5 million contract, the Blues have filled a void with one of their own.

"We had a good discussion after the season ended when I got back from the World Championships. We wanted to make sure that Barret felt that this was still the right place for him to continue his career," Armstrong said. "He felt he wanted to stay here and continue to build what we have right now. It became a business decision, an economic decision and we were able to work through that. I think both sides are satisfied and excited moving forward.

"We looked at him this year and his contract only takes him through 33 years old. We think he's still got a lot of good hockey left in him. We felt we had five defensemen; we needed seven. Jacks gives us six and now we're on the hunt for one more."

The 6-foot, 205-pound Jackman, who won the Calder Trophy in 2003, has had a 10-year career with the Blues, compiling 139 points (20 goals, 119 assists) in 598 games.

The 598 games is tied for 10th overall on the franchise list. With the young Blues defensive corps with Alex Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Kris Russell, Roman Polak and Ian Cole, Jackman's veteran savvy was something the team could not afford to overlook.

"He obviously played very well last year and he's been through a lot of experience here in St. Louis," Armstrong said. "We needed a player first and foremost and leadership was a secondary thing. The games are won on the ice and what you do on the ice.

"Jacks because of his tenure here and the role he played on our team ... not only on the ice but leadership, he was a primary guy for us to go to. He was the first player in that area that we went to and we wanted to get a quick solution with him to make sure he stays here."
(Getty Images)
Barret Jackman will receive $9.5 million with his new three-year contract.

The Trail, BC native Jackman could have gone to July 1 and unrestricted free agency to see what could have been out there. The pastures could have been greener but it's obvious that wasn't what Jackman was looking for.

"Obviously money is a part of it, but obviously I love St. Louis and wanted a chance to be a part of this team for many years to come," Jackman said. "My family is here, my friends ... just the work I've put into the organization ... I want to be a part of it when there is a parade down Market Street. I want to be in a Blues uniform for as long as possible."

It's not that seeing what else could have been out there wasn't on Jackman's mind. He signed his last contract before becoming a UFA and has never taken part in that process.

"Yeah. You have to prepare yourself for everything, but at the end of the season, Army was really great," Jackman said. "He had a meeting with me, and we had three or four different conversations about (that) possibility. We talked about free agency and talked about the pros and cons of it. I felt very comfortable talking with Doug.

"Free agency was on my mind, but first and foremost, it was check out the options with St. Louis. I was glad to get something done."

As for Colaiacovo, who just completed a two-year, $4.25 million contract, it appears that he will test the free agent waters on July 1. The Blues are in search for a top four defenseman and could test the free agent market or through a trade to bring in someone, but Colaiacovo is hopeful that he and the Blues can reach a deal.

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