Blues ink Robert Bortuzzo to contract extension -

Blues ink Robert Bortuzzo to contract extension

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Robert Bortuzzo (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Robert Bortuzzo (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (HockeySTL) -

The Blues announced Thursday a contract extension for Robert Bortuzzo that will keep the defenseman in St. Louis through the 2018-2019 season.

According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the average annual value on Bortuzzo’s new contract is $1.15 million, making it a $2.3 million commitment.

The deal is finalized with Bortuzzo on injured reserve with a lower body injury, to be re-evaluated in several weeks. The contract is no major commitment by St. Louis, but it’s interesting to consider how the modest deal could affect the Blues in the upcoming expansion draft. Based on the NHL’s protection rules for June’s draft, the Blues will be able to protect only three defensemen.

Players with no-movement clauses in their contracts have to be protected and count toward that limit, so the Blues will be very unlikely to have room on that list to protect Bortuzzo.

There could be plenty of roster changes before those decisions have to be made, but Bortuzzo’s new contract would satisfy an additional stipulation that requires the Blues to expose at least one defenseman who is under contract for 2017-2018 and played in either 40 or more games in 2016-2017, or at least a combined 70 games in the two prior seasons.

Bortuzzo played 40 games last season, and has been involved in 11 this season–meaning he needs to appear in only 19 more the rest of this season to qualify.

At its worst, the Bortuzzo contract is a way to guarantee the Blues meet the criteria for the expansion draft. If Bortuzzo sticks around beyond this season­–which seems likely as the Blues will have other talented players exposed in that draft–his contract secures the back-end of the Blues defensive corps for the next couple years.

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