Seeking to add more veteran experience to a young team, the Blues have signed free-agent forwards Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner to one-year contracts.
Arnott, 36, and Langenbrunner, 35, will each make $2.5 million in 2011-12, with potential bonuses that could increase the value of their contracts to $2.8 million individually. Arnott and Langenbrunner each bring experience and leadership capabilities to the Blues. Both have Stanley Cups on their resume and both have previously been NHL captains.
Langenbrunner won two Cups, with Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003. He was the Devils’ captain from 2007-11 and he also captained Team USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Arnott won a Cup with New Jersey in 2000 and he later wore the “C” for the Nashville Predators from 2007-10.
Aside from their similarities, there are connections. The two were teammates in New Jersey last season before Arnott was dealt to Washington and Langenbrunner to Dallas.
Also, on March 19, 2003, during Langenbrunner’s first stint with Dallas, he was traded to New Jersey for Arnott in a deal that involved other players. The general manager who made that trade was Armstrong, who was the GM in Dallas before taking over the same role in St. Louis last season.
The signings sent excitement through the Blues’ organization. “Arnott, a big body that can play in the middle,” said Blues coach Davis Payne, who was only permitted to talk about Arnott at the time. ”His ability to shoot the puck and contribute offensively, he’ll be a big, physical body to lean on people. That’s something that we value very high.”
Blues captain candidate David Backes believed both Arnott and Langenbrunner would be good fits. “Those two, along with Scott Nichol, besides bringing the average age up, Jamie and Jason are guys that have won Stanley Cups and guys who have been in the playoffs year after year,” Backes said. ”With the young group of guys that we have, it’ll be great that they’re going to be able to guide us toward that promised land that we’re trying to get to.”
Backes played with Langenbrunner with Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “He’s got a calm presence, but with that calm presence comes that work ethic that’s unmatched,” Backes said. ”He’s a guy that has achieved a lot of his success from outworking his opponents. That’s kind of the blue-collar mentality that the Blues have had and have to continue to have to be successful. He’ll bring a lot to the table. He had a lot of words of wisdom at the Olympics and those words of wisdom are still holding true every time we step on the ice.”
Backes admitted some surprise with the additions. “You sat there after July 1 going, ‘Well the Blues are kind of sitting on their hands … maybe it’s the ownership thing, maybe we’re just going to go with the team we had last year, and if we stay healthy, we’re still going to be a force to be reckon with,’” he said. “But now there are three more pieces to the puzzle.
“And you have to add the veteran defenseman, Kent Huskins, too, he’s won a Stanley Cup, and a guy that’s going to bring a lot of familiarity with the playoffs. And again, keep us calm, keep us consistent over the year and make sure we’re playing in April, May and June.”
Langenbrunner split his time last season between the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars, where he played in 70 games, tallying nine goals, 23 assists and 32 points. The No. 35 overall pick in the 1993 NHL entry draft, the 6-1, 205-pound Langenbrunner has put up career totals of 1,035 games played, with 237 goals, 401 assists and 638 points.
Arnott also begin last season with the Devils before joining the Washington Capitals. Between the two stops he played in 73 games, chipping in 17 goals, 14 assists and 31 points. The No. 7 overall pick from the 1993 entry draft, the 6-3, 220-pound Arnott has career totals of 1,172 games played, with 400 goals, 504 assists and 904 points.
Take me to St. Louis! These guys are definitely going to have a huge impact on the Blues teams. I expect to see the Blues lead their division and even make a huge run in the playoffs.