Patrik Berglund’s New Deal Gives Him a Great Shot at Becoming the Longest-Tenured Player in Blues History

Mar 14, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

All it took was a run of 16 goals in two months for Patrik Berglund to earn a serious shot at becoming the longest-tenured player in Blues history.

Considering the way he’s produced through 2016-17–17 goals through 60 games in the final season of a three-year deal–it wasn’t too surprising to hear on Friday that the St. Louis Blues had signed center Patrik Berglund to a contract extension. There was a fair bit of shock value, however, surrounding the term that Berglund was awarded. Months after GM Doug Armstrong expressed concern about giving long-term deals to veteran forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer, he gave Berglund a five-year contract.

This isn’t to say the Berglund deal was bad in any way. He’s still in his prime at 28 years old–three years younger than Brouwer and four years younger than Backes–and his skill set lends itself to durability much more than those of Backes and Berglund. Even if his offensive production dips from the level it’s at right now, he’s got the skill set to play center on the fourth line if necessary.

The interesting thing about Berglund’s deal, though, is that it gives him a serious shot at becoming the longest-tenured player in franchise history and breaking Bernie Federko‘s record for the most games played in a Blues uniform. Seeing as Berglund has a partial no-trade clause–one that prevents him from being traded to seven teams–it’s highly likely that there will be some type of no-trade language in his new deal, meaning it’s almost certain that Berglund will spend all five years of his new contract in St. Louis.

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If Berglund finishes the deal and plays through the end of the 2021-22 season, he’ll have spent 14 seasons in a Blues uniform. That’d be the most of any player in franchise history, surpassing the 13 that both Federko and Barret Jackman played in St. Louis.

Heading into Sunday’s meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks, Berglund has played 615 NHL games, all of them in a Blues uniform. He just tied Bob Plager on the all-time franchise leaderboard, and he’ll move into sole possession of seventh place on the list after Sunday. He’s not that far from moving into sixth place, either, as Garry Unger currently occupies that spot with 662 games played.

Assuming that Berglund plays in every game for the rest of the season–perhaps a lofty assumption since he’s played in all 82 games just once during his NHL career and did so when he was 23 years old–he’d finish the season with 637 games played. That means he’d need just 291 games to pass up Federko for first place on the Blues’ all-time games played list. In other words, if he averages 58.2 games a season for the duration of his contract, he’ll easily claim the record. If Berglund were to play every game for the remainder of the time that he’s under contract with the Blues, he’d finish with 1,047 games played, beating Federko by a whopping 120 games.

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If Berglund is able to pull off the feat, it should be interesting to see if he experiences the “Barret Jackman effect.” Jackman, who played for the Blues from 2002-15, was heavily scrutinized by Blues fans during his playing days, at points receiving the same level of snarkiness that Berglund got at the height of his struggles. While it’s difficult to argue that he was ever a “bad player,” per se, he was a stay-at-home defenseman who didn’t create much offense and was unfairly cast as one of the faces of the franchise during a very unsuccessful portion of the mid-2000s.

Because of his overall dependability and leadership qualities, though, Jackman ended up sticking around for a very long time, finishing second only to Federko on the all-time franchise leaderboard for games played with 803. The events that played out near the end of his career were proof that time heals most if not all wounds. There was plenty of emotion from Blues fans when the team announced that he’d be allowed to walk in free agency following the 2014-15 season.

That sentiment continued in December of 2015, when he returned to Scottrade Center for the first time as a member of the Nashville Predators and received a standing ovation from Blues fans. It continued yet again last August, when he was lovingly welcomed back as he signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Blues. With the 35-year-old former defenseman now living in St. Louis, it seems very possible that he could eventually fill a Bob Plager-like role in Blues lore and hang around the organization for decades to come.

It should be noted that Vladimir Tarasenko also has a solid shot at breaking the record. If he were to play in every game for the rest of this season and then all 82 games every season for each of the six years remaining on his contract, he’d finish the contract with 833 games played in a Blues uniform. That probably wouldn’t be enough to surpass the total that Berglund is in position to amass over the length of his new deal, but Tarasenko will only be 31 years old at the end of his current contract, so it’s easy to see a scenario under which the Blues bring him back on a new contract to finish his career in St. Louis.

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For a player that’s been more of a complimentary piece rather than a star for most of his career in St. Louis, it’s really odd to think about Berglund perhaps becoming the longest-tenured player in franchise history. It seems as if the perception of him from the fan base is quickly changing, though, and perhaps he’ll carve out a reputation as one of the most beloved players in Blues history before it’s all said and done.