If the St. Louis Blues allow defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to hit the free-agent market, he will be the top prize and maybe the highest-paid player to get a new contract when the free-agent frenzy begins no later than Oct. 9. According to TSN Insider Darren Dreger, Vegas is on Pietrangelo’s shortlist.
NHL free agency begins on the earlier date: Oct. 9 or seven days after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.
Pietrangelo, 30, captained the 2019 St. Louis Blues to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman had 52 points (16g, 36a) in 70 games this season.
Speaking on the daily radio show, Leafs Lunch, which airs on TSN 1050 in Toronto, Dreger discussed the season-long contract saga between St. Louis and the defenseman whom Dreger described as “world-class.”
“It’s not like St. Louis wants to drive this guy to the airport and get rid of him,” Dreger said. “He’s their captain, and they’d very much like to keep him, but if they’ve got to invest $9 million to keep Alex Pietrangelo, either way, he’s coming at the expense of a player or players…”
The NHL flat salary cap at $81.5 million for at least one, probably two, and maybe more seasons is putting many teams in a vice. The extreme loss of revenue across the economy and by NHL owners also means many typical cap teams may not spend to the ceiling, which puts cash-flush teams like the Vegas Golden Knights at an advantage.
“I think that going into the open market, Toronto would be very high on (Pietrangelo’s) list. I think the Vegas Golden Knights would be high on his list, and that list would be relatively short,” Dreger said.
Winning helps, too.
The Golden Knights have appeared in the Stanley Cup Final and Conference Final in two of their three seasons and are still one of the deepest teams in the NHL.
Dreger reported St. Louis has offered a contract with an AAV of at least $8 million per season and likely offered an eight-year term, but Pietrangelo is asking for $9 million or more per season.
The heavy buzz centered on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Toronto doesn’t have nearly enough salary cap space to make that move yet.
According to CapFriendly.com, the Golden Knights are also short on cap space, with only $4.9 million available. Of course, that figure doesn’t factor in the probable trade of Marc-Andre Fleury, which could save about $2 million if Robin Lehner signs a $5 million per year deal. However, VGK would still be short, and GM Kelly McCrimmon would need to make additional moves to clear enough space to make Pietrangelo a realistic signing.
Of course, when one of the top defensemen in the game wants to play for you, things can change. Stay tuned.