The St. Louis Blues will be keeping one of their depth defensemen around a while longer, announcing a two-year extension for Carl Gunnarsson. The deal comes with a $1.75MM cap hit, a substantial decrease from the $2.9MM average annual value his last contract carried. Gunnarsson was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
In an offseason where the free agent market for defensemen seems to be shrinking daily, a player like Gunnarsson may have been considered quite valuable on the open market. The veteran returned from 2018 offseason hip and knee surgeries but dealt with several other injuries during the year that limited him to just 25 games played for the Blues. He nearly matched that total in the postseason however, suiting up 19 times and scoring a memorable game two overtime winner against the Boston Bruins. A solid option whenever he entered the lineup, Gunnarsson could be relied upon for safe minutes beside one of the team’s more active right-handed stars.
Playoff success and steady defensive play is usually rewarded in free agency, but the 32-year old obviously valued the stability of the Blues organization where he has spent the last five seasons. Originally selected in the seventh round back in 2007, Gunnarsson has worked hard for every opportunity in his NHL career and will stick around with the team that just took him to a championship. Whether he plays a big role on the St. Louis blue line in 2019-20 is still to be determined, but he’ll be valuable depth for the team as they look to repeat.