St. Louis Blues Sign Martin Havlat to One-Year Deal, Release Dainius Zubrus from PTO


After weeks of experimentation, the St. Louis Blues made a decision on the direction they want to go to add forward depth on Friday. Veteran forward Martin Havlat, who had been practicing with the team for the past 10 days as part of a professional tryout arrangement, was signed to a one-year deal. Dainius Zubrus, who was also practicing with the team in hopes of earning a contract, was released from his professional tryout deal. To make room for Havlat on the roster, forward Ty Rattie was re-assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

The 34-year-old Havlat has played 788 NHL games for the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and New Jersey Devils, scoring 241 goals with 352 assists. He’s played another 75 postseason games, scoring 21 goals with 31 assists. Halvat’s had three 60-plus-point seasons, with his best coming in 2008-09 for the Blackhawks, when he had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists).

Halvat had the least productive season of his career in 2014-15 for the Devils, scoring just five goals with nine assists over 40 games. That resulted in him not earning an NHL contract this offseason; he spent training camp with the Florida Panthers on a professional tryout deal, but was not tendered a deal at the conclusion of the preseason. Halvat, who just narrowly falls behind 35-year-old Scott Gomez for the distinction of being the Blues’ oldest player, will look to find chemistry with Gomez, his former teammate in both San Jose and New Jersey, as well as former Blackhawks teammate Troy Brouwer, in St. Louis.

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Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Zubrus, a veteran of 1,243 NHL games, probably has reached the end of his NHL career after receiving no offers this offseason and failing to impress the Blues enough to earn a contract. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward put up just 10 points over 74 games for the Devils last year, and his lack of high-level skill limits his intrigue in today’s NHL.

The loss of his roster spot to Havlat and another demotion to the AHL is a rather significant deterrent in Rattie’s battle to become a full-time NHL player. The 22-year-old has spent time with the Blues in each of his three professional seasons, but has yet to score a goal over his first 18 NHL games (a major difference from the 56 goals he’s scored in 134 AHL contests). This season, Rattie’s had two assists over five games, with one being a very impressive helper on David Backes‘s game-winning overtime goal against the Minnesota Wild, but for the most part Rattie has gone unnoticed.

Rattie will head back to Chicago and continue to develop, but considering the fact that he has failed to make an impact in the NHL thus far and repeatedly gets passed up for playing opportunities, it’s now debatable whether he’ll ever end up getting a real chance in the Blues’ lineup.

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Rattie was quickly passed up in the pecking order by Magnus Paajarvi, who was recalled from Chicago on Wednesday and played perhaps his best game in three seasons for the Blues on Wednesday night against the Blackhawks. For the time being, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Paajarvi will likely get some more chances to contribute to the lineup as coach Ken Hitchcock decides who deserves to be in the lineup among Paajarvi, struggling 22-year-old Dmitrij Jaskin, and the “grizzled veterans” of the squad: Havlat, Gomez, and Scottie Upshall.

It’s likely that Havlat will get some more practices in to get up to speed before entering the game lineup, as the Blues’ heavy workload over the past 10 days has prevented him from getting much work in with the team. In the ideal scenario, the Blues would probably like the veteran Havlat to serve as more of a depth option, with younger, more highly-skilled players like Jaskin and Paajarvi taking advantage of the opportunities they’ve been given to contribute to the lineup.

As the Blues add Havlat, it’s worth noting that the Blues could have some tough decisions coming in about two months when it comes to veteran players. Halvat, Gomez, and the 32-year-old Upshall were all signed to two-way contracts, so it’s possible that all three could be candidates for demotion to the AHL whenever injured forwards Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, and Patrik Berglund get healthy. Those three, as well as Jaskin and Paajarvi, will be battling to keep their NHL spots over the next couple months.

Next: Blues Re-Assign Defenseman Chris Butler to AHL

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