Friday, March 11, 2016

Blues extend Gunnarsson for three more years

Defenseman gets $8.7 million contract, $2.9 million salary/AAV across the board

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues made sure they kept a piece of their defensive core before he could hit the free agent market this summer.

The team announced before they faced the Anaheim Ducks on Friday that they signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a three-year contract extension worth $8.7 million.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson signed a three-year
extension Friday for $8.7 million

The 29-year-old Gunnarsson, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, will have a salary and average annual value of $2.9 million in 2016-17, $2.9 million in 2017-18 and $2.9 million in 2018-19.

Gunnarsson has never been an unrestricted free agent before, and the Blues gave him ample reason not to be one this summer either.

"It feels nice," Gunnarsson . "I haven't talked too much about it, but when we started talking, eventually got it done, I think we're both happy. I'm happy to be here another three and part of the organization. I'm thrilled to get it done before the season, too. It's perfect.

"I've never been on the unrestricted free agency market. It was certainly appealing, but then, we got along, we both found a deal we were happy with and I like what we've got going on here. Not reason not to stay."

Gunnarsson, who was acquired at the 2014 NHL Draft along with a 2014 fourth-round draft pick (that turned into goalie Ville Husso) from the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Roman Polak, has played in 63 games this season with two goals and six assists.

Gunnarsson has appeared in 124 regular season games with the Blues and has 20 points (four goals, 16 assists).

Gunnarsson is completing a three-year contract he signed with the Maple Leafs worth $9.45 million. He's making $3.45 million in salary this season.

True to his nature, Gunnarsson didn't tell anyone he had signed. Many of his teammates found out by exterior means.

"He's so quiet around here, he didn't tell anyone," center Paul Stastny said. "Everyone had to find out on their phones before he told anyone. That's just Carl for you.

"Deservedly so. It couldn't happen to a better guy. Everyone's excited saying something to him after that big play (on the game-tying goal Friday night). Happy to have him around a few more years."

Goalie Jake Allen agreed.

"Yeah, it couldn't happen to a better guy," Allen said. "I don't think anyone knew until just before game time. He sort of kept it a secret, he's a low-key guy, but real happy for him. I know he likes it here a lot. He's been a key steady component to our team and it's very well deserved." 

Blues coach appreciates the versatility Gunnarsson has brought to the team.

"He's a good partner," Hitchcock said. "What makes him a good player is he's a good partner, so you can play him up or down the lineup, you can play him 20 minutes, you can play him 15 minutes and he's a good partner. He's a good partner for 'Shatty,' good partner for (Colton) Parayko, he's a good partner for 'Petro.' You get guys like that, they're glue-guys on your hockey club. They're underrated players. You've got to have those kind of players in this type of cap economy. You've got to have players that complement other players. He's a great complementary player, a smart player with the puck. I think he's found a home here competitively-wise. Obviously management likes him and the coaching staff likes him a lot, so it's a good fit."

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