It was reported earlier today on Twitter by TSN’s Daren Dreger that contract talks have broken down between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo.
Can Vegas land Pietrangelo?
Earlier this week, Dreger appeared on Leafs Lunch on The Fan 590 in Toronto and said the Golden Knights were on his potential shortlist along with the Leafs. Friday evening, the situation became real.
Sources say contract talks between the St Louis Blues and Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo have broken off. The team has advised Pietrangelo to pursue unrestricted free agency.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 18, 2020
Then just a half-hour later Dreger followed with this:
Just spoke with Pietrangelo who says contract talks haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping and, unless something changes, it’s in the best interests for both to see what the market looks like on October 9th. https://t.co/OWHiWMidkC
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 19, 2020
The 30-year-old helped lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup last season and is a two-time NHL All-Star. Various reports had Pietrangelo’s salary requests pegged at north of $9M per season, and St. Louis had offered at or slightly above $8M per season.
First of all, I’m someone who believes anything is possible in today’s NHL because some teams have cap room but no real money, some teams have real money and no cap room. Some teams have neither.
Make no mistake, we’re about to embark on a painful exercise. I can easily argue the value of every player I’m about to suggest unloading. Every name you read will make you wince slightly. But here’s the reality: a right-hand shot, PP1 defenseman with a Stanley Cup ring and a “C” on his jersey isn’t available every day. If you want Alex Pietrangelo in a Vegas Golden Knights uniform, sacrifices must be made.
The Golden Knights will need to move some salary as according to CapFriendly.com the team has roughly $4.9M in expected cap space right now. One major piece that could be moved to make room would be obvious: Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7M cap hit. Remember if Robin Lehner is indeed signing that rumored five-year, $5M-ish per year contract that chews into that space.
So if we assume this happens, that ups the cap space to roughly $6.9M. Better, but not done yet.
Realistically, the VGK would have to move another high-earning player. Most of the choices are not appetizing to Golden Knights fans. Paul Stastny has one year left with a $6.5M cap hit for 2020-21, with a cash outlay of $5.5M. He also has a limited NMC. Max Pacioretty is another high-earning forward but would be a really tough sell to the fans. His cap hit is $7M for the next three years but the cash falls from $7M this year to $5.25M in the remaining two years of the deal.
Defensively Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez are your highest-earning players in that order. That said I’m in no hurry to move any of them, and I especially value the veteran Martinez and his contributions on and off the ice. But if you had to move someone only Schmidt has a limited NMC. Both Schmidt and Theodore (who is untouchable to me) are signed for the next five years. Martinez only has one season left at $4M cap hit/cash out. To me he might be the easiest one to move.
If we take that $4M from Martinez it gets the VGK to around $11M in cap space. Remember, this is a team currently facing RFA deals for Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson. I like both players but could see one or the other becoming a sacrifice to the cap gods. Center Tomas Nosek is a UFA, while Jon Merrill and Deryk Engelland are UFA on defense.
There is an upside if you do move on from some of the aforementioned players. Up front it could make room for players like Peyton Krebs and Jack Dugan on the roster. Defensively, Nicholas Hague might be ready for a bigger role. Connor Corcoran could also be ready to challenge for a spot after a great year in junior. So the cupboard isn’t bare if you move someone mentioned above.
Expecting Lehner to sign a deal that will likely be near what was reported a few weeks ago, it would really require moving two if not three currently contracted bodies to fit Pietrangelo in under the cap. Also, keep in mind there will be other options out there on the market when it comes to defensemen including Torey Krug. Krug is also a PP1 defenseman who might come in cheaper than Alex Pietrangelo. But that’s an article for another day.
It appears moving Stastny first and possibly Martinez second is what makes the most sense. If you move Stastny you may be able to spare Martinez with some maneuvering farther down the depth chart, but it would be really tight to pull it off. As I said, sacrifices must be made if you are going all out.
Karlsson’s Late Goal Lifts Golden Knights
William Karlsson played the role of hero for the Vegas Golden Knights, notching the game-winning goal with just 43 seconds remaining in a scoreless game to give the VGK the 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon.
With cheers coming from what sounded more like a partisan Vegas crowd, Jonathan Marchessault dug out a puck from behind the Coyotes net and centered to Karlsson. Karlsson made no mistake, burying the puck on the stick side of Darcy Kuemper (26 saves) for the game-winning goal.
Marc-Andre Fleury posted his 62nd career shutout on 16 saves. The victory was his third straight to open the 2021 season.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, the win is redemption after giving up five goals to the Coyotes on Friday night for the team’s first loss of the season. This time Vegas never really let Arizona into the contest, giving up only four shots in the first period.
The game felt sluggish at times, perhaps due to the afternoon start but also the fact that these same two teams were facing each other for the fourth straight time. Fortunately for Vegas, they were able to break through late and steal the victory.
“The name of the game was patience,” Karlsson said with a relieved laugh after the game. “We had a lot of chances and sooner or later they will go in. I thought we had a great game. Eventually (it) has to go in and it did.”
When the Golden Knights had the energy up and forechecked aggressively in the game they generated chances. Nowhere was that on display more than the game-winning goal. Alex Tuch dumps the puck into the corner from neutral ice as Marchessault attacks with speed into the Coyotes zone, beating out an icing call. Marchessault puts the puck into an area just off the net in the slot where Karlsson was able to follow up and immediately shoot the puck, not allowing Kuemper to set up for the shot.
WILD BILL SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST 🤠🚨 pic.twitter.com/UBlTugE2y5
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 24, 2021
Vegas was definitely the better of the two sides throughout regulation, out-shooting and out-chancing the Coyotes especially in the later stages of the game. Darcy Kuemper deserves the credit for yet another great start for Arizona, making save after save to give the Coyotes a shot at the win.
The Vegas Golden Knights return home for the team’s toughest test so far, a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues starting Tuesday evening.
- I feel like I’m beating the same drum over and over, but when the Vegas Golden Knights are generating scoring chances, it’s because of the forecheck. This team is built on speed and being aggressive, chasing down pucks and setting up scoring chances from that. Today’s game-winning goal was a perfect example of that.
- Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t busy the entire time, but made every single save he needed to including a breakaway stop on Phil Kessel that could have spelled disaster for the VGK. I’ve never seen a goalie who stays so completely game-ready regardless of work schedule. Fleury won’t receive the credit he deserves for the work he did in this one, but without him being perfect, perhaps Vegas doesn’t win.
- The Vegas Golden Knights have never gone past regulation with a 0-0 score, and came within 43 seconds of that happening against Arizona.
- Once again Cody Glass sat and Nic Hague was back in the lineup, giving Vegas the traditional six defensemen and 12 forwards. Hague looked good and to underscore another point I’ve been making, this team is much better with six defensemen in the lineup.
- Vegas also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 61% of the draws.
Coyotes End Golden Knights Win Streak At Four
The Arizona Coyotes stopped the Vegas Golden Knights winning streak at four games with a 5-2 victory at Gila River Arena on Friday night.
Connor Garland led the Coyotes offense with a goal and two assists, while Nick Schmaltz scored for the third straight game.
It’s a very difficult proposition to beat a team four times in a row – look at any playoff series. Arizona winning a game, especially at home, was probably due. The Coyotes seemed to have more spring in their step than they did Wednesday night when the Golden Knights handed the Coyotes a 5-2 loss. Several times the Vegas defense allowed odd-man rushes to the Coyotes, and running five defensemen once again likely contributed to some of the errors on the back end.
“It’s definitely different,” said Shea Theodore after the game. “You are rotating through partners (and) you can’t exactly get into the rhythm with one guy… at the same time I don’t think that’s an excuse.”
“We should be able to adapt. We just can’t give up that many odd-man rushes on any given night.”
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said he felt it was more the special teams that affected the outcome of the game.
“Penalties really kinda took our momentum out of the game. Both taking them, and obviously their power play goal early, and then a bunch of the other kills we had to have… when they did take (penalties) I didn’t think our power play created any momentum for us. For me that was… the story.”
“Some self-inflicted things tonight,” DeBoer said.
Whatever the reason, Vegas allowed the Coyotes to grow confident by ceding the opportunities and it showed. Arizona seemed to feel better about its game more and more as the game wore on.
Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to earn the win as Vegas never quite seemed to find the scoring touch it displayed Wednesday night. Robin Lehner struggled, giving up four goals on 25 shots against and will likely want a couple of those goals back. Lehner seemed off the entire night, whether handling the puck, setting himself for shots, or tracking movement. Those games will happen, but they’re highlighted even more when the goaltender in the other net makes the needed saves. Kuemper was definitely the better of the two goalies on the night.
Fortunatley for the Golden Knights, they’ll be able to jump right back into the action against the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm MT, 3 pm PT.
- The game marked the first time this season the Vegas Golden Knights have given up more than two goals.
- Cody Glass returned to the lineup after sitting out a pair of games and recorded a power play goal in the third period.
- Shea Theodore scored for the second straight game, an unassisted marker at 1:19 of the third period.
- Vegas went back to a lineup that featured five defensemen and 13 forwards with Glass back in the lineup. Notably both Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo went minus-2 in the contest.
- Mark Stone keeps his scoring streak intact, assisting on Cody Glass’ power play goal in the third period to give him eight points (2-6-8) in his first five games.
Pietrangelo Scores, Fleury Stops 20; Vegas Tames Coyotes 5-2
Shea Theodore scored twice. Alex Pietrangelo notched his first goal with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights (4-0-0) established a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start the season in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes (1-2-1) Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Mark Stone and Alex Tuch added the other goals for the Golden Knights. Tuch also tacked on two assists for a three-point game.
Marc-Andre Fleury and his golden pads, which match the metallic gold jerseys, made 20 saves for the win.
Production Is Increasing
The Vegas Golden Knights are starting to get some big-time production. Alex Tuch’s three-point night was a welcome sight. Max Pacioretty extended his point streak to four games with an assist. Stone’s goal also extended his point streak to four games. Keegan Kolesar notched his first NHL point with an assist. And perhaps most important is that the VGK notched a power-play goal. Things are starting to come together.
Offense From the Defense
For the first time, this season the Vegas Golden Knights received goals from its defenders. Shea Theodore scored twice, and Alex Pietrangelo scored his first in a Vegas sweater. Alec Martinez and Nic Hague also added helpers. Head coach Pete DeBoer likes his defensemen active and involved in the play, and they certainly were Wednesday night. Here’s to hoping that trend continues in Arizona.
Taking Advantage of the Schedule
As we pointed out before the season, the schedule couldn’t be more conducive to an early run for the Vegas Golden Knights. Already at 4-0 to start the season, they could hit 6-0 and potentially 12-2 or better depending on how things shake out. The difference this year? Going 6-0 to start would be like going 10-0 in a regular 82-game schedule. Getting that far out in front makes it hard for other teams to catch the Golden Knights. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but until Vegas plays the Colorado Avalanche on Valentine’s Day, only two of the team’s first 14 games come against a playoff club from last year (St. Louis Blues).
The Rotation Continues
Marc-Andre Fleury made the start last night for the Vegas Golden Knights, wearing his new gold pads to coincide with the second appearance of the team’s gold uniforms. Fleury stopped 20 shots to earn the win and is now 2-0 on the season.
Take to the Sky
The Vegas Golden Knights will now take to the road for the last two games against the Coyotes in this series. The two teams play Friday at 6 pm PT and Sunday at 1 pm PT to round out the week.