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A Scout’s Take on Pietrangelo to Vegas; Schmidt to …?

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Credit: Michael Miller (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Alex Pietrangelo is close to signing with the Vegas Golden Knights, as soon as perhaps tonight, according to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic.

Insider consensus suggests that the 30-year-old defenseman will sign a seven-year contract — the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement — at about $9 million dollars per year.

The Vegas Golden Knights currently have about $1.875 million dollars in salary cap space, so there must be a corresponding move at some point this off-season. Teams are allowed to be 10 percent over the $81.5 million dollar cap during the off-season.

Candidates for an eventual cap-clearing move include Marc-Andre Fleury (two years left at $7 million per), Nate Schmidt (five years left at $5.95 million), and Alec Martinez (one year at $4 million). Earlier in the week, the Vegas Golden Knights managed to off-load Paul Stastny and his one-year, $6.5 million dollar ticket to Winnipeg for a draft pick and Carl Dahlstrom.

According to Andy Strickland, Schmidt will be sent to Florida:

However, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period interjected:

But will Pietrangelo be worth the cost?

Pietrangelo finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting this year, his third time finishing in the top-five over a distinguished 12-year career with the St. Louis Blues. The long-time Blues captain also led St. Louis to the Stanley Cup in 2019.

The Vegas Golden Knights may also be “just one player away.” In their first three years in the league, Vegas has made a Stanley Cup Final, and most recently, they reached the Western Conference Final last month.

Teaming Pietrangelo and fellow elite blueliner Shea Theodore will give the Golden Knights an enviable one-two punch from the back-end.

But it’s always dangerous to give a 30-something a maximum contract, as we saw with the contract that the San Jose Sharks gave Erik Karlsson last summer. Karlsson struggled relative to his lofty standards, and San Jose missed the 24-team playoff.

I reached out to an NHL scout to get his sense about Pietrangelo’s place among the top defensemen in the league and how much decline he forecasts over the life of the contract:

“Right now, he’s a borderline top-10 defenseman.

“I mean he’s an elite defender — don’t get me wrong.

“Just thinking out loud, I have Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, and John Carlsson higher right now. Then you have Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, Charlie McAvoy, and Ivan Provorov coming.”

However, the scout didn’t see anything in Pietrangelo’s game that would suggest a precipitious drop. Using Karlsson as an example again, the Sharks superstar had been slowed by ankle and groin surgeries in two of the three years before San Jose re-signed him. The likely future Vegas Golden Knights’ No. 1 defenseman doesn’t have any such red flags.

“The point I’m trying to make is there are so many good defensemen out there. So top-10 will be real tough to maintain.

“I would imagine a decline even if it’s marginal.”

As I like to say, pay for the first four years, pray for the last four years. If Pietrangelo is indeed that final piece for a Stanley Cup, the cost will be well worth it for Vegas.

UPDATE:

 

 

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[…] to be done in order to clear the cap space and become compliant for the VGK. Nate Schmidt has been rumored part of a nearly-completed trade, but the deal has not been finalized. Even if Schmidt’s nearly $6M cap hit is removed from […]

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