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.