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Blues re-sign captain Drake, pick up McKee

ST. LOUIS -- Veteran defenseman Jay McKee agreed to
terms on a four-year, $16 million contract with the St. Louis Blues
on Saturday.

McKee's agent Pat Morris told The Associated Press that the
overall terms of the deal were far superior to the contract the
Buffalo Sabres, his client's former team, offered before allowing
McKee to become an unrestricted free agent.

Morris added that McKee impressed the Blues new management,
headed by team president John Davidson. Davidson was hired Friday
after the sale of the Blues to a group led by Dave Checketts was
completed.

"The organization is excited to add a quality defenseman and
excellent leader in Jay McKee," Davidson said. "He was very
instrumental in Buffalo's playoff run last season."

McKee, a 10-year veteran, had been Buffalo's senior player. He
was coming off a strong season in which he helped the Sabres win a
franchise-best, 52 regular-season games and clinch their first
playoff berth since 2001. McKee then played a big role in Buffalo's
extended postseason run, which ended with a Game 7 loss in the
Eastern Conference finals to eventual Stanley Cup champion
Carolina.

McKee had 16 points, including a career high-matching five
goals, and led the NHL with 241 blocked shots in 75 regular season
games. In the playoffs, he had a career-high two goals and three
assists and led the team with 64 blocked shots in 17 games, but
missed Buffalo's finale because of a serious leg infection.

He joins a Blues franchise that is in transition but features an
emerging core of defensemen, including Erik Brewer and Erik Johnson, the first player chosen in the NHL draft last weekend.

"As Jay said, it'll be the last time the Blues pick first
overall," Morris said. "He's ready to get at it."

McKee was spending the weekend vacationing in Las Vegas while
hitting the jackpot with the Blues. The new deal represents a
considerable raise from McKee's $1.6 million salary last season.

Morris said McKee, the Sabres' first-round pick in the 1995
draft, enjoyed his time in Buffalo but was excited to have a new
opportunity in St. Louis.

The loss represents a blow to the Sabres defense, which stands
to lose another regular blue-liner, Teppo Numminen, who also became
an unrestricted free agent Saturday after completing his one-year
contract.

The Sabres attempted to re-sign McKee before the start of free
agency, but he rejected the offer.

St. Louis also re-signed captain Dallas Drake to a multiyear
deal.

The 37-year-old forward has played in 884 NHL games during a
13-year career. He was chosen as captain this season when he played
62 games and recorded two goals and 24 assists.

"I have admired the way Dallas handles himself on and off the
ice over his career and thrilled to have him back leading our
team," Davidson said. "He is a character guy and gives everything
he has night after night."