Alexander Steen has agreed to a three-year, $17.4 million contract extension with the Blues, as reported by the team's official site. The deal carries an average value of $5.8 million a year. Steen's new contract will make him the highest paid forward on the Blues.
So much for waiting to negotiate until after the season, huh? While the timing of the deal caught most fans by surprise after Steen's comments and desire to avoid negotiations during the season, it appears to be yet another smart and fair contract by Doug Armstrong.
Steen is the obvious choice for team MVP so far in 2013-14. With 22 goals and 36 points through 33 games, Steen has not only been the best offensive player on the Blues but he's also been one of the best players in the entire NHL. Steen has six more points and six more goals than the next closest offensive player on the Blues (Backes has 16 goals and 30 points).
Is $5.8 million the right amount for Steen? It is, but not just because he has been the best weapon offensively.
The NHL's salary cap is going up. With the cap expected to rise from $64.3 million to around $70 million, contracts are going to start getting bigger. Steen's new $5.8 million a year salary might be comparable to a current $5 million a year salary under the current cap. Think of it as inflation. Looking at it this way, Steen's new deal looks more than fair even before you factor in his recent production.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounds whether Steen will be able to keep up his offensive pace. That remains to be seen, but even if he falls short the Blues were wise to keep his deal relatively short (three years) and relatively affordable. If Steen suddenly stumbles and returns to his 40-50 points form, the team's finances won't be crippled.