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Thursday, September 12
Updated: September 13, 4:53 PM ET
Tkachuk agrees to guaranteed four-year deal

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Keith Tkachuk said he wanted to stay in St. Louis, and the Blues made no secret of wanting to oblige the club's leading goal scorer last season.

Keith Tkachuk

Tkachuk, one of the league's premier forwards, agreed Thursday to a guaranteed four-year deal worth $40 million with a club option for a fifth year that would add another $5 million.

The deal came two months after the 11-year veteran accepted a $8.3 million qualifying offer for this season -- and just in time for Sunday's opening of training camp.

"All along, I've wanted to stay a Blue. My family wanted to stay,'' Tkachuk said in becoming the Blues' highest-paid player this season. "We like the team. We like the organization. We did what we had to do to make it happen.

"Looks like I'll retire as a Blue.''

Blues general manager Larry Pleau called the 30-year-old Tkachuk "one of the cornerstones of our franchise for years to come.''

"When we traded for him, we wanted him here for a long time,'' Pleau said. "This contract does that, and we're very happy.''

By comparison, Bobby Holik -- winner of two Stanley Cups with New Jersey -- bolted from the Devils in July and signed as an unrestricted free agent with the New York Rangers, receiving a five-year deal worth $45 million.

Forward Bill Guerin will get similar money in Dallas, after logging his second straight 40-goal season last year with Boston.

The Blues acquired Tkachuk from Phoenix in March 2001.

Tkachuk was a physical presence for the Blues last season, scoring a team-high 38 goals -- his seventh season with at least 30 -- and finishing second in points with 75. He also had seven game-winning goals and led the Blues with 244 shots.

Tkachuk has 367 goals and 339 assists in 725 regular-season games with Winnipeg, Phoenix and St. Louis. Tkachuk, a member of the silver medal-winning U.S. team in the 2002 Olympics, has 26 goals and 21 assists in 69 playoff games.

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