Tonight may be the last night that Alex Pietrangelo is a St. Louis Blue. The long back and forth between the captain and general manager Doug Armstrong that began last off-season is wrapping up - the salary cap is stagnant, and Petro is in for a raise. Armstrong would have to shuffle pieces off in trades to hold on to the first Blue to ever touch the Stanley Cup.
Pietrangelo was drafted fourth overall in the 2008 NHL draft. St. Louis is the only franchise that he’s ever known. His wife and her family are from here. His four children were born here. And, according to Petro, he’d like to stay here.
I asked Pietrangelo if he expects to hear from the Blues before the start of free agency Friday, he replied:— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 8, 2020
"I would sure hope so. I can't read their minds, to be completely honest with you. I have no idea, but I would expect that they would call." #stlblues
And of course he would. The Blues have never been outwardly unreasonable in terms of his previous contracts. The team, despite this year’s early playoff exit, still look like they’re playing within a window to win. Even if 2019 was a lightning in a bottle situation, the team’s still going to be a successful competitor in the Western Conference.
Hockey is a business, both for the player and the team. None of us know what Petro’s looking for; none us are privy to what Armstrong has offered him. Rumors have it that Armstrong won’t offer bonuses and a NTC over a long term deal. He has never been a fan of either. He’s offered modified NTCs, but the only player that the Blues have on the books with any bonuses is Ryan O’Reilly. That contract was acquired by a trade.
So now we wait for tomorrow.
“We are planning for (free agency) tomorrow,” he texted to the Post-Dispatch, “unless we hear from the Blues prior.”
Free agency begins at 11:00 Central time.
This isn’t David Backes. Backes had question marks about his career longevity around him, and Doug Armstrong correctly read the tea leaves when he let this captain walk. This time, the captain doesn’t have that. This time, the captain is indispensable.
Is he? Is any player? No. Teams can rebuild. Teams can surprise. But it would be disappointing for the Blues to have a player like Pietrangelo leave the organization. It could damage the good will that Army has culled with the fans over the past two seasons, not that Armstrong is focused on that.
He’s the Blues’ GM. He’s not ours.
Armstrong has locked up key players this past season, and he’s tied up small pieces.
The salary cap holding at $81.5 is not something that he foresaw in September of last season, or any time until the pause in play. Does that excuse him not locking up one of the league’s best defensemen? That’s up to the individual, I suppose.
If Pietrangelo leaves St. Louis tomorrow, it’ll be a short term loss, at the very least. If it’s a long term loss remains to be seen.