Rewarding Alexander Steen for his torrid start to the 2013-14 NHL season, the St. Louis Blues announced Wednesday, Dec. 18, that they have agreed to terms to sign their star forward to a three-year, $17.4 million contract extension.
In the midst of his sixth season with the Blues, Steen's contract was due to expire following the 2013-14 campaign. The 29-year-old forward and alternate captain had signed a four-year extension in July 2010, which has paid him a relatively cheap $3.56 million each of the past three seasons.
This new deal represents a massive pay raise for Steen and a sign of commitment from the Blues that he'll be a franchise cornerstone going forward. His contract situation had come under massive speculation as he's led the Blues on a torrid start. With Steen getting off to the best start of his career, some wondered whether he had begun pricing himself out of the greater Missouri area.
It didn't help when Steen's agent, Jeff Kowall, told The Fourth Period that no negotiations would happen during the regular season.
"Alex prefers not to discuss a contract extension during the season and the team has respected that," Kowall said.
His teammate Alex Pietrangelo went on Twitter to offer his feelings on the news:
As Steen continued racking up points, it was easy to see why Steen and his management would be eager for him to hit the open market.
Heading into Wednesday night's slate of games, Steen is tied for second in the NHL with 22 goals, trailing only Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. He also leads the Blues with 36 points, ranking tied for ninth in the league in that category.
As noted by the Blues' official release, he reached 20 goals in only 24 games—the fastest rate in nearly a quarter-century. In only 33 games, Steen is already just two goals away from matching his career high and 15 points away from matching his personal best there. His breakout season comes after battling through a frustrating series of injuries each of the past two seasons.
Now, Steen has been a consistent fixture in the first line and easily the Blues' most explosive offensive force. St. Louis will head into Thursday night's contest against the Montreal Canadiens with a 22-7-4 record and behind only Chicago in the Central Division. Their 48 points would be good enough for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.
After missing the playoffs five times in the first six post-lockout seasons, the Blues are on the precipice of their third straight postseason run. Locking Steen up ensures the club has made a commitment to keeping that run going.
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