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Doug Armstrong shows precision in locking up Brayden Schenn to long-term deal

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NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time when St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong gave our extensions to players that seemed like unwanted candy from the annoying aunt to the fan base.

Think about the Alexander Steen extension right after Armstrong denied David Backes a new contract, deciding to give the former, who was close in age to Backes, a new deal. There have been others. Just google Patrik Berglund and bring some anti-acid pills.

These days, Armstrong is an expert poker player when it comes to locking in players for the long haul, going from Bad Brad to Player X in a matter of months. First, there was the underrated extension for Carl Gunnarsson that kept an able-bodied defender around who ended up scoring a CRUCIAL goal in the Stanley Cup Final. I even applauded the Robert Bortuzzo signing, because you need some true grit on the blue line, especially someone who scored TWO playoff goals.

Let’s not forget about that Ryan O’Reilly guy.

This summer, he’s followed up a Stanley Cup acquisition by going out and trading for All Star defenseman, Justin Faulk. Before the hands were done shaking, a new contract was given to Faulk, who had a slick assist in the Blues’ opening game on Wednesday night. There was no hesitation in Armstrong, he moved like a jackal before another team could even think about the deal. It literally came out of nowhere.

Today, the player whom Armstrong fleeced the Philadelphia Flyers for two summers ago (fuck your draft pick argument, St. Louis traded them a drug dealer!), Brayden Schenn, signed an eight year contract extension that runs through the 2027-28 season.

Basically, when the Interstate 44 construction finishes up, Schenn will be a free agent.

The average annual value is $6.5 million, which according to Cap Friendly comparisons such as Kyle Turris and Logan Couture, is a fine value. If Schenn would have tested the market after this season, even with only a moderately successful season, he would have gotten at least an AAV of $6.5.

The eight years are a bit much, but in order to get Schenn to sign quickly and before the 2019-20 season stretches its legs, he probably wanted some long-term security. Unlike Steen’s contract, Schenn’s contract payouts decrease in latter seasons. While he makes $8 for the first few seasons, by the end, the yearly payout is less than $5 million. In the end, it works out for the Blues and Schenn. It’s a marriage that assures the team is taken care of as more youngsters assemble on the deck.

The Blues are in an interesting situation, with a gradually younger roster that has a fair share of vets on it. They are in a perpetual win-now mode, but also have the future stacked. All Armstrong is doing is thinking three card deals ahead. He grabbed Faulk before another team could sniff in its direction. He signed Schenn before another front office could design a package for him next summer.

Schenn sticking around gives the Blues wicked depth at the center position. Remember when all Vladimir Tarasenko had was Jori Lehtera and a lost puppy for center assists. The online message boards raged against the dying of the goal production light, and nothing changed. Now, Armstrong has Ryan O’Reilly, Schenn, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev, and Tyler Bozak with more help on the way.

The Blues have a couple studs in O’Reilly and Schenn, with others coming up right behind them. It’s a good place to live.

Let the issues with the salary cap and payroll in 5-6 years come across our minds then. That’s a bridge that hasn’t even been built, yet alone thought about. Schenn chose the years over the premium dollar, so once again, the deal benefits both sides.

Now, Schenn has peace of mind and Armstrong just has to worry about re-signing Alex Pietrangelo. With Jay Bouwmeester and his $3.2 million falling off the book next year and a possible magic fleece involving Steen or Jake Allen, there could still be money left over for Petro to stick around. Vince Dunn would be next when it comes to pending contracts, but I wouldn’t expect him to break the Blues’ bank the first time through. Again, that’s a bridge for another day.

The Blues take on Dallas tomorrow night and feature a lineup that can hang with just about any roster in the Western Conference. Instead of being complacent, Armstrong and Tom Stillman got greedy, which is the kind of GM/Owner team any fan desires. A front office that sees blood in the water.

As Don Draper once said, what do you want when you find happiness? “More happiness.”

Indeed, Don. Indeed.