When free agency began this afternoon, it was assumed that Alex Pietrangelo would continue his talks with Doug Armstrong while also testing the free agent waters. The Blues were willing to give Pietrangelo money and term, but a no-movement clause and bonuses were rumored to be the hold-up. Doug Armstrong doesn’t hand out contract perks, and signing Pietrangelo to a large contract, it would make cap management difficult for the next couple of seasons.
Doug Armstrong is under no obligation to wait around while Pietrangelo makes up his mind. If Petro walked, and Armstrong missed this opportunity, the Blues defense would have a gap that would be difficult to fill - and one that would set them back in the competitive Central Division.
On the other hand, signing Pietrangelo was paramount in several ways. Team leadership, ability, the team’s reputation with the fans - all of those things made re-upping Petro over the past year a top priority. To let your franchise defenseman walk over a matter of principle isn’t admirable.
Replacing Petro with Krug isn’t stupid. Krug was probably the top defenseman on the market after Pietrangelo, and the terms of the contract are reasonable.
Torey Krug, who is both rumored to still be in talks with the Bruins and rumored to be subject to having his rights dealt, is the only pending UFA D that the Blues could even remotely compare to Pietrangelo. He averages 20:29 TOI a game, finished last season with 9 goals and 40 assists, and averaged .80 PPG. His current hit with the Bruins is $5.25 million a season, which could be doable if Dunn doesn’t get a huge raise and if the cap goes up for the 2021-2022 season - and if Krug would settle for a small raise.
There’s no reason to assume Krug pulls a Justin Faulk; then again, there was no reason to assume that Faulk would pull a Faulk. If Pietrangelo communicated to Armstrong that he was done negotiating, then this is the best move that Armstrong could make.
The true best move Armstrong could’ve made was finding a way to make it work with the first Blue to touch the Stanley Cup.
UPDATE: Here’s the contract structure for Krug:
Structure on Torey Krug contract with the Blues:— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 10, 2020
Year 1, $4M
Year 2, $4M
Year 3, $8M
Year 4, $8.5M
Year 5, $8.5M
Year 6, $6.5M
Year 7, $6M
All salary, no signing bonus money, a Doug Armstrong staple.
Full no-trade clause Years 1-5, Modified NTC, Years 6-7