2010 NHL Free Agency: Tampa Bay signs Martin St. Louis to 4-year, $22.5M extension

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MSL.jpgMartin St. Louis looks like he’ll be a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning for five more years.

New GM Steve Yzerman is making some nice moves today, ridding the team of an excessive contract in Andrej Meszaros and now inking the pint-sized St. Louis to a four-year contract extension. The four-year deal is worth $22.5 million according to James Duthie, which makes it a $5.5 million annual cap hit.

While the “face” of the franchise has been Vincent Lecavalier, St. Louis has been the heart, soul and … guts. He produces year after year, including winning a Hart Trophy in their anomalous Stanley Cup winning season. He also found great chemistry with Steven Stamkos this season, producing a 94-point season while often skating alongside the young co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy.

There are pluses and minuses to this extension.

On the good side, St. Louis clearly still has his fastball right now. If he could even maintain his pre-Stamkos pace of about 80 points per season, $5.5 million is a steal. (Not to mention the fact that he appears to be a great character guy.)

The downside of the deal is that he’s already 35 years old. If St. Louis fades toward the end of the term, the contract could come back to haunt the Lightning.

Overall, though, I think it’s a good move that signals the Lightning will take care of its best players. Chances are Stamkos will be more likely to sign a contract extension with the team now that he knows his favorite co-pilot will be around for a while.