ST. PAUL, Minn. — Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer is regarded as a quiet guy.
"But he's very honest," general manager Steve Yzerman said.
So when Brewer opened up at his postseason exit interview and told Yzerman he wanted to remain with the franchise long term, Yzerman moved quickly to start contract negotiations.
The payoff came Friday. Brewer, 32, who could have been an unrestricted free agent July 1, signed a four-year deal believed worth $15.4 million, with a salary cap hit of $3.85 million.
"We had some good dialogue at the end of the season," Brewer said by phone. "I explained to them how it was for me, and it was very good. I think we were honest the whole time … and I think that helps. You leave it all out there, sometimes it all works out."
Forward Blair Jones also signed, getting a one-year, two-way contract. But it was Brewer's signing and speculation about where Tampa Bay stands with some of its other potential free agents that made interesting an otherwise ordinary first day of the draft at the Xcel Energy Center.
With Tampa Bay picking 27th, there was little anticipation before the selection of junior center Vladislav Namestnikov. On the other hand, securing Brewer and wondering about where negotiations stood with star center Steven Stamkos, wing Sean Bergenheim and goaltender Dwayne Roloson were hot topics.
Bergenheim, a playoff standout, seems headed for the open market July 1. "I'm not real optimistic at this time that we're going to be able to reach any agreement," Yzerman said.
As for Stamkos, who could be a restricted free agent, and Roloson, who could be unrestricted, the answer was the same. "We continue to talk," Yzerman said. He did not seem rushed when it came to Stamkos despite persistent rumors the Maple Leafs and newly flush Flyers are preparing offer sheets if he is not signed.
Brewer, coincidentally, has the same agent as Stamkos. But Yzerman said the negotiations with Don Meehan rarely intertwined.
"They're busy," Yzerman said of Meehan and his Newport Sports staff. "They have a lot of clients here for the draft. We'll get a chance to speak here, and if not, during the next week we'll pick it up again."
When it comes to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Brewer, Yzerman just wants him to pick up where he left off. Acquired in February from the Blues for prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third-round pick in this year's draft, Brewer was a linchpin on the blue line, especially in the playoffs. The former St. Louis captain had a goal and six assists in 18 games, led the team with an average 25:36 of ice time and 51 blocked shots, and tied Ryan Malone with a team-best 43 hits.
"He's a veteran guy who can play 20-plus minutes against the other top teams' players," Yzerman said. "He moves the puck very well and can skate."
Said coach Guy Boucher: "If we get the same thing out of him all year long on a consistent basis, we'll be very happy."
As for Brewer, "I'm just excited about the opportunity to play in Tampa," he said. "I liked the way things were done and the way they play. It's a good mix of players. The more we play together, the better we're going to get and try to win the Cup."