Friday, July 20, 2012

Blues and Oshie avoid arbitration, agree on five-year extension

By Andrew Allsman| Posted: July 20th, 2012| Contact  |

Less than 12 hours before the scheduled arbitration trial between the Blues and restricted free agent forward, T.J. Oshie, an agreement was reached between the two parties to keep the winger in St. Louis for at least five more seasons.

The arbitration hearing to settle the dispute on fair compensation between the two parties was schedule for Friday morning at 9 a.m. The club announced the extension just after 10 p.m. central time via Twitter. Avoiding arbitration was the preferred route for both parties, but chances of settling were looking grim earlier in the week when General Manager Doug Armstrong headed to Toronto to prepare for possibility of a Friday hearing.

“We exchanged briefs and both sides had an idea of where we were coming from," said Blues' general manager Doug Armstrong. "Just like most things in the NHL, (arbitration) works off of a deadline. We knew today at 9 a.m. we were going to put T.J.’s future in somebody else’s hands and we both decided it was best to see if we could work out something together.”

Had arbitration been necessary, a judge (arbitrator) would have decided the compensation, which would have likely been a number between both parties' asking amount. The Blues would have chosen between a one-year deal or a two-year deal, though it is rumored that the first choice was the one the Blues were leaning towards. Oshie preferred getting a deal done before arbitration, but said he was fine with the other route too.

“I wanted to get a deal done. St. Louis is where I wanted to be and want to be for a long time. I was fine with the way it would have went (in arbitration) too. My number one goal was to get a long-term deal and solidify myself in the core group of this team for a long time.”

Oshie's contract will pay him $4.175 million per year for five seasons, this is a big pay increase from his last contract which paid him $2.35 million. Oshie will be 30 years of age when the new contract expires. He will also become an unrestricted free agent at that point.

Oshie, 25, just completed his fourth NHL season, all of which have been with the Blues. Last offseason Oshie was given a one-year 'prove yourself' contract and prove himself he did. For the first time in his NHL career, the winger surpassed 50 points, scoring 19 goals and registering 35 assists (54 points). The Blues also wanted Oshie to prove he could remain healthy, after only playing in 49 games the 2010-11 season. Oshie would play 80 of 82 regular season games during 2011-12, the most of his career. His 54 points were tied with David Backes for most on the team, while averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game in the regular season.

“We certainly thought he had a good, productive season last year," said Armstrong. "Some of the stuff we were looking for as far as consistency on the ice, ability to play 80 games was there. I also think he embraced the new coach and someone with Ken’s experience is valuable to our organization. This made it a natural movement to get him signed to a longer deal if possible.”

“Everyone wants a long-term deal and a big deal," said Oshie. "It was great for us to play under pressure and to prove ourselves. I think that ‘prove yourself’ contract kind of jolted me last summer in my training and that has carried me over into this summer.”

A fan favorite, Oshie was happy to remain in the city he has called home the past four seasons.

“It’s great, I couldn’t be any happier to re-sign with the Blues," said Oshie. "It is where I have grown as a player and as a pro. As far as the long-term security goes, it is something I have never had in my career. It is nice to have that security but I want to get better every day and every year.”

The Mount Vernon, Wisconsin native has 175 points (63 goals, 112 assists) during his four-year tenure with the Blues. He now has five more years to improve those numbers, and he is glad he will be doing so with the Blues.

“For everyone to know you are a member of a core group that has been improving, to be included in that means the world to me. I can’t say enough about how proud I am to be a part of it.”