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Alex Pietrangelo’s new contract: The Blues may have dodged a future bullet

The structure of the deal is... inventive.

NHL: Western Conference Qualifications-Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never easy to lose a cornerstone player, let alone the captain who brought the Stanley Cup to St. Louis. Alex Pietrangelo is a Golden Knight now, and he will be for the next seven years - and the contract structure may cause headaches for Vegas as time goes on.

Already players are in the process of being moved (some of whom were caught off guard by their being dealt), and at least one other will have to be shipped out to relax Vegas’ cap situation. The obvious target for trade is Marc-Andre Fleury, but with a $7 million cap hit, and most teams’ goaltending looking to be set, that may be easier than done.

Past trades to clear space for this season, long-term Vegas may be in for some creative roster management with this contract, a contract that is creative, to say the least:

Armstrong said in his Zoom call on Saturday night that he offered Pietrangelo some bonuses and a modified NMC, two things that he doesn’t do for just anyone. If this is the kind of creative salary structure needed for a seven year deal that brings an AAV of $8.8 million, I think that it’s clear why Armstrong passed.

It’s structured in a way that the Golden Knights will have to be paying a 37 year old defenseman $8.8 million, but it’s also structured in a way that Vegas is on the hook for keeping Petro on roster, regardless of any production drop-off. It’s reasonable to just expect Petro to decline naturally with age, not to have a massive plunge in production. This could work to be a safe deal for Vegas. Next season, the only pending UFA they have to take care of is Alec Martinez, and the only RFA is Carl Dahlström. The year after, the biggest deal they’ll want to keep on the books is Reilly Smith, who will more than likely get a raise as a follow-up to his $5 million contract.

How much they can spend on free agents is dependent on the cap increasing past the covid-freeze, and how much that cap increase is.

The Blues have a larger group of pending UFAs coming up before the cap will be able to increase. Next year, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Binnington are up for new contracts - so are Carl Gunnarsson and Tyler Bozak, but Armstrong would more than likely be more prone to let them walk than Schwartz and Binnington. As an added bonus, Armstrong will also have to hammer out new contracts for Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, and, um, Jacob de la Rose.

Looking even further down the line for the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko is a UFA in 2023-2024 and so is Ryan O’Reilly, and Colton Parayko is a UFA the season prior to that, as is David Perron.

How many of those players do fans want to see walk out the door? There’s no guarantee that any UFA will re-sign, obviously, but Armstrong more than likely had his eye on the future when he was looking at the present with Pietrangelo.