With Day 1 of the NHL’s 2020 free-agency period in the books, star defenceman Alex Pietrangelo remains a free agent.
However, it seems the Stanley Cup and Olympic champion could be narrowing in on a decision, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Saturday that Pietrangelo is en route to Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights are among the teams said to be vying for Pietrangelo’s services.
Fresh off the conclusion of a seven-year deal in St. Louis that saw Pietrangelo become the first Blue to ever hoist the Stanley Cup, the 30-year-old appears to all but certainly be done in St. Louis following his former club’s signing of Torey Krug.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced the team’s seven-year, $45.5-million deal for Krug on Friday, one which put the club over the salary cap with an RFA still to sign, and seemingly no room to bring back its former captain.
According to The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, Pietrangelo was not aware the Krug signing was coming.
“While the Blues’ GM was on a Zoom call with reporters, Pietrangelo was contacted about the turn of events. ‘Nothing to say,’ Pietrangelo wrote in a text message. ‘It caught me off-guard.’ He didn’t comment any further, but it was clear he hadn’t moved on in his mind,” Rutherford wrote.
Following the signing of Krug, Armstrong spoke about the situation with Pietrangelo’s negotiations.
“Trust me. Alex, we tried to sign him,” the GM said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I want to give our ownership group a ton of credit, going to the maximum number of years available. The contract (believed to be for eight years, $8 million per year) is well-documented that was offered. We used every tool under the (collective bargaining agreement) to ensure we could get something done. It just didn’t work out.”
“I was hoping to get something done,” Armstrong added. “… We talked a lot. We exchanged offers during the season, during the pandemic, and multiple offers post-pandemic. We just couldn’t find something that made everyone comfortable. It’s not the first time and won’t be the last time this happens in the NHL. You just wish it didn’t happen because of the respect and the desire we had to keep Alex here.”
He also shed light on what appears to be a key point of friction in said negotiations — the inclusion of a no-movement clause.
“When you give someone a no-movement clause, they basically have more power in your organization than the owner does,” Armstrong said. “I don’t really understand the logic of that. I know guys don’t want to move around or go on waivers. But just the thought of a player having more power than the owner, it doesn’t make sense to me.
“But, with Alex, there was a no-movement clause that we included there. It was partial. It was for certain years. It was to protect him at the end of his contract. Plus, a signing bonus that we don’t do, that we talked to Alex about, too. Alex, I treated him differently than we treated anybody else.”
Armstrong also suggested there may still be a chance Pietrangelo could return to St. Louis, though it’s unclear how the club would make that work financially, especially with defender Justin Faulk signed to a seven-year extension last month himself, also kicking in next season at $6.5 million annually.
“We had some really good conversations into last evening, and we just couldn’t get anything done,” Armstrong said, per Rutherford. “So he was going to hit the market and I said, ‘Keep us in the loop,’ and I still hope he does keep us in the loop.”
Pietrangelo posted a career-high 16 goals alongside 52 points through 70 games in 2019-20. The veteran rearguard has topped the 50-point plateau four times during his 12-year NHL career, topping 40 points eight times in total. His 24:11 minutes of ice led the club this season as well, and marked the ninth straight season Pietrangelo has averaged more than 24 minutes per night.