In a Zoom interview with press last night, Doug Armstrong didn’t close the door on talks with Alex Pietrangelo, saying “you never know what happens in the future... we have to get very creative.” He implied that the Blues were just “knock[ing] things off as they came” when they signed Krug.
On his part, Alex Pietrangelo didn’t seem to expect the signing:
I traded texts with Pietrangelo last night and today.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 10, 2020
It's fair to say there's two sides: he declined the Blues' latest offer and decided to go the market. But it's also worth pointing out that he never officially counted them out and was indeed "caught off guard." #stlblues
It makes sense that Petro never counted the Blues out, considering that they’re one of the teams that his agency, Newport Sports Management, Inc., have been focusing on during their negotiations. There’s a clear impasse between the Blues and Newport; there was one between the two sides before Brayden Schenn switched agencies to Octagon and then signed his new deal worth $52 million over eight years at the start of the season. Talks had stalled with Newport, and then miracle of miracles, a representation change happens and Schenn will be a fixture on the Blues for years to come.
It looks like the hold-up might be in representation, and Newport is trying to work against a stagnant salary cap. It boils down to if GMs want to move pieces for Pietrangelo, and it doesn’t look like Armstrong wants to blow up his entire core just yet - or maybe he’s just saddled with Alexander Steen and Tyler Bozak’s contracts for right now.
Regardless, the signing of Torey Krug was a smart one - he was the top UFA defenseman available on the market after Pietrangelo, and clearly he liked both the Blues’ contract terms as well as the team.
Pietrangelo, on his part, may have been under the impression that the Blues were going to wait on his decision before making moves of their own. That’s either unrealistic or naive, and I don’t know if that lack of realism is on Pietrangelo’s part or if it was based off of advice that his agent gave him.
Why would Doug Armstrong, whose job is to manage the team and its player assets, wait for Pietrangelo’s decision when other UFAs are on the market and willing to sign? Why would he tell Krug “listen, I really like you and we have a deal set up, but we need to see what Alex Pietrangelo’s decision is first?”
If he did that, if he even entertained that, it would be a dereliction of job duties.
The Blues could not wait for Petro and his agent to make a decision that may or may not’ve been in their favor. The team does not revolve around the interests of one individual, and if Armstrong let other UFAs pass the Blues by without Pietrangelo re-signing, he would be excoriated in the press and by fans - and rightfully so.
People can debate what they think about the terms offered to Petro and if Armstrong should’ve signed him earlier. That’s fair - but any discussion needs to take both sides, including the agency, into consideration. With uncertainty hanging over his head, Armstrong made the best decision for the team that he could with the information he had in the situation that he’s in.
Alex Pietrangelo stopped being a member of the St. Louis Blues at 11:00 yesterday morning. This was a business decision, plain and simple, but it was also one made with the future of the Blues in mind - a team that Alex Pietrangelo, unless a miracle happens, no longer captains.