The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Patrik Berglund – who has been and will remain the subject of trade speculation – to a three-year, $11.1-million contract extension Thursday. The signing kicked off what could be an eventful week for the franchise, which is still looking to make its first conference final appearance since 2001.
Getting the 26-year-old Berglund (a restricted free agent who earned $3.25 million last season) under contract doesn’t mean he’s a lock to stay with the Blues; this could be a precursor to moving him. The Blues (and Berglund, who had a disappointing 2013-14 regular season with 14 goals and 32 points in 78 games) have been linked in trade rumors with Senators captain Jason Spezza – and depending on what happens with Canucks trade requester Ryan Kesler, he could be wearing a St. Louis jersey sometime this weekend and Berglund could be in Ottawa. The Blues have also kicked the tires on Avalanche unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny as an alternative. Either player would be an immense help to a squad that finished with the third-worst goals-per-game average (2.33) in the playoffs.
That said, there will be competition for the services of Stastny and Spezza, and there’s every possibility the Blues still are hunting for a skilled center by next week. They may have to sacrifice some of their much-envied blueline depth to get a quality pivot in place.
St. Louis also has decisions to make on restricted free agent forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka, as well as UFA veterans Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow. GM Doug Armstrong has the salary cap space to make things happen, but the cash-conscious Blues will be judicious spenders unlikely to approach the cap ceiling.
Change is inevitable for every NHL team. But when you consistently underwhelm in the post-season, you leave yourself open to more significant alterations in the off-season. That’s why, on the eve of the NHL draft, a number of Blues – Berglund included – had every right to remain nervous.