Alex Pietrangelo not expecting to hold out
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is possibly the most high-profile player still without a contract for the next NHL season. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been busy wheeling, dealing, and signing new deals all summer long, but his team’s top defenseman is still waiting for the right deal to arise. Despite the waiting, Pietrangelo told the Canadian Press that he has no plans for a prolonged holdout.
“I’ve just kind of been moving forward as if I’m going to start the season like a regular year,” Pietrangelo said. “I’ve been working hard all summer, trying to put it behind me here for this week and trying to enjoy this process and hopefully something gets done here in the short term.”
“I’m not even thinking about holding out,” the 23-year-old said. “I’m thinking about training camp and being there September 11, 12, whenever we’re going to start up, and be ready for the first game of the season.”
Pietrangelo has seen fellow Blues defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Jordan Leopold, and Jay Bouwmeester sign long-term deals, and restricted free agent forwards Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart were also locked up. Armstrong has also moved winger David Perron to acquire forward Magnus Paajarvi and a draft pick from Edmonton, while also bringing in Derek Roy to add some playmaking skill down the middle.
With the season about a month away, Pietrangelo is hoping to have a deal done in time and get back to work with the Blues. The trend around the NHL this offseason has been to sign restricted free agents to longer-term deals in order to keep the player through a number of years in which they are eligible for unrestricted free agency.
As Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated pointed out in July, the number for Pietrangelo’s expected annual salary is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million. That wouldn’t be an issue for the Pietrangelo that posted a combined 23 goals, 94 points, and plus-34 rating in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
But Pietrangelo took a step back in the 2013 lockout-shortened season, totaling 5 goals, 24 points, and an even rating in 47 games. Will he revert to his old form in a full season of play? Is this a sign of further regression? Will $7 prove to be a crippling cap number in future years? These are the questions that Armstrong is trying to answer, which makes this negotiation so complicated. It’s a risk for sure, but it’s one that seems to be on track to be resolved before the season’s start.
Around the Rink Columnist Joe Ray – @joeray119
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[H/T Pro Hockey Talk]