The Blues were able to reach a deal in principle with one of their two restricted free agent forwards in Patrik Berglund on Tuesday afternoon as they announced that they had agreed to terms with the 25-year old forward on a one-year extension. The deal was finalized on Wednesday.
Berglund has been with the Blues since being drafted by the club in the first round of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The contract that Berglund signed on Wednesday is the third of his five-year NHL career. It certainly won’t be the last.
Berglund will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season, but it was his preference according to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.
“When I talked to Patrik and his agent, we talked about different lengths and we were open to discussing all different alternatives,” said Armstrong on Wednesday. “Patrik felt a one-year deal was something that he was most comfortable with. I think he wants to come back and have a very good season and take his game to a whole new level. In today’s game where everyone wants term, Patrik said ‘I’d rather just come back on a one-year deal and prove to myself and to the league where I stand.”
Berglund is coming off of a solid 2012-13 campaign where he finished second on the club in goals scored (17), and fourth on the team in total points (25). Yet, Berglund took a small pay increase and wants to prove himself before he is ready to sign long term.
Berglund’s last contract was a two-year deal worth $4.5 million. His one-year deal with the Blues is worth $3.25 million. The Blues certainly want to lock up Berglund long term, but the deal works for both sides in this case.
Berglund has yet to prove to be a consistent player for the Blues, and while his most recent season is a start, the Blues are anxious to see more of the same out of the Swedish forward; the one-year contract allows this to happen.
The contract can be viewed as a ‘prove yourself’ contract much like the one forward Chris Stewart signed last year. However, Armstrong made it sound as though the short-term deal was Berglund’s preference. Whatever the case may be, the Blues will certainly look at adding some length to Berglund’s next contract, assuming the forward performs to the Blues’ liking in the upcoming season.
“He is heading into the prime of his career,” said Armstrong. “If he had wanted to go longer, we would have tried to find some common ground. We will be back in this spot again next year, and if both parties are willing, we can do a long-term deal then.”
The one-year deal surprised some due to the fact that fellow forwards David Perron and T.J. Oshie were re-signed to long-term deals during last year’s offseason. Perron was inked to a four-year deal while Oshie signed a five-year contract. Whether or not Berglund and the Blues were unable to agree on compensation for a long-term deal is not known, but both sides feel the deal is good for them.
With Berglund re-signed, the Blues will turn their attention to forward Stewart, the other restricted free agent forward. Stewart signed a one-year deal last offseason. It is believed that the Blues and Stewart will look to agree on a contract with more length this time around. Besides Stewart, the Blues will have their focus turned to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo as well, who will be looking for a long-term deal and will be looking for a substantial pay raise. Beginning July 5, teams can begin submitting offer sheets to restricted free agents. Obviously the Blues would like to reach an agreement with their free agents before that date, which is still a strong possibility, but Armstrong has said he isn’t worried about offer sheets, and he plans to re-sign all of the team’s restricted free agents.