No matter what happens for the rest of this season, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will be a free agent. The 30-year-old will have a variety of teams vying for his services. This seasons has been one of his best. He has 16 goals and 52 points in 70 games. This coming after a Stanley Cup winning campaign while also playing over 25 minutes a night. The playoff run cemented his status as one of the best defense-men in the game. Can the Blues re-sign him? Or will the Blues captain be playing his somewhere else?
Whoever signs Pietrangelo will be giving up some money to do so. I think a good comparison would be Predators defenseman Roman Josi. Josi is making a touch over 9 million dollars and that is the range where most expect Pietrangelo to fall into. I would expect he wants seven years, or eight if he resigns in St. Louis. There is some risk given his age in giving him that long term contract. However Alex Pietrangelo doesn’t play a physical game and should have at least a few excellent seasons left.
If the cap stays the same (it is likely it will lower) the Blues have about ten million dollars to play with. The free agents are, Pietrangelo, Marco Scandella, Jacob de La Rose, Mackenzie MacEachern, Sammy Blais and Vince Dunn. Blais looked primed for a breakout year but injuries delayed that. So he won’t be as expensive as thought. Dunn has had a disappointing year but his due for a raise. The others won’t be expensive or really worth signing. Maybe Doug Armstrong thinks about signing Marco Scandella but I would expect other situations to be dealt with first.
If the Blues want to resign their captain they will need to clear additional space. There are a couple of pieces that could be moved. For starters is goaltender Jake Allen and his 4.35 million dollar cap hit. Allen has been nothing short of sensational this year in his backup role. Jordan Binnington has established himself as not a fluke, however and as the starter going forward.
Tyler Bozak could also see himself on the trade block. He has a five million dollar cap hit for one more year. Bozak has been the prototypical third line center and his defensive game is nothing like Toronto fans said it would be. However, with the emergence of Robert Thomas, Bozak has shifted to the wing and that might be too much money for a third line winger. For a struggling team who team who might need a Stanley Cup proven vet at center, Bozak is as good an option as any. Trading Alex Steen is also an option but no team is taking that contract for only one year.
There is a question if resigning Pietrangelo is worth it. On the right side the Blues already have Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk. Scott Perunovich has been a star in the NCAA and looks about ready to play in an NHL lineup. Also, after next season, Jaden Schwartz, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Zach Sanford are set to be free agents, with Parayko a free agent the year after that. So as much as it would hurt Blues fans, letting Pietrangelo go might be a valuable option.
My official prediction is that Doug Armstrong finds a way to bring his captain back. The Blues know this is their window to win another Cup and losing Alex Pietrangelo would be a giant wound to accomplishing that.
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