After more than a decade manning the St. Louis Blues blueline, Barret Jackman will be looking elsewhere if he wants to continue his NHL career.
According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch, the Blues have notified Jackman, who first debuted with the club in the 2001-02 season, that he will not be receiving a contract offer from St. Louis and the team will instead be going in a, “different direction.”
The 34-year-old Jackman was a first-round selection of the Blues in 1999, picked 17th overall in a draft that featured players such as the Sedintwins, Henrik Zetterberg, Martin Erat, Martin Havlat and Radim Vrbata. In his first full season in the league in 2002-03, Jackman suited up for every game for the Blues, scoring three goals and 19 points, which remains the fourth highest point total of his career. His play was enough to land him the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, an award he beat out Zetterberg and Rick Nash to earn.
With regular season games in St. Louis, Jackman is the longest tenured defenseman in franchise history and has played the second most games in team history. Only Bernie Federko, who suited up for 927 games, played more games for the Blues than Jackman. This past season, he passed Brett Hull and Brian Sutter on the all-time list.
Jackman’s role with the Blues has been in decline for the past three seasons, as he’s seen his role go from one of the club’s top blueliners to the bottom of their defense corps. In 2008-09, Jackman logged more than 23 minutes per game, but his average ice time slipped in each of the following seasons before reaching a career-low of 16:48 in 2014-15.
He did, however, serve in a leadership role as one of the Blues’ alternate captains, a role that will be vacated with his departure.
“I have lots left in me,” Jackman told Rutherford in April. “I don’t know, four or five years. I take care of myself away from the rink. The body’s the best it’s felt in years. This is actually the best I’ve felt in years health-wise. I don’t see myself as a 40-year-old playing the game, but I’m still only 34 and feel like I’ve got lots left. I’ll continue playing.”
One of the major reasons the Blues will be moving on from Jackman is that, at his age and with the minutes he logs, it would be tough for St. Louis to find the cap space to re-sign a bottom-six defenseman who has had an average contract value of more than $3.25 million for each of the past seven seasons.
Breakout star Vladimir Tarasenko and goaltender Jake Allen are both restricted free agents and will land new deals with the Blues, but St. Louis has less than $12 million available to fill out its roster for next season. Once the Tarasenko and Allen deals are done, it could be significantly less than that.
While there are a number notable players on the free agent market when it comes to defensemen – Mike Green, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson, to name a few – Jackman’s chances of landing an NHL deal for next season are likely pretty high. He’s not as mobile as he once was, which is likely another reason St. Louis won’t bring Jackman back, but he can still play quality bottom-six minutes.