Task of Signing Pietrangelo
The St. Louis Blues have a wallet that rarely opens. When it does, it never opens too wide. In recent years the team has been forced to play a minor role in free agency, limiting itself to contracts that range between just under $1 million and just over $4 million. The Blues will be forced to adopt a new policy in the very near future when Alex Pietrangelo's current contract expires.
Alex Pietrangelo's contract expires after the 2012-13 season. His current contract, an entry-level three-year deal that the team gave him prior to 2010-11, pays him a combined salary of roughly $3 million a year. This number isn't exact as his NHL salary checks in at under $1 million but bonuses push it back into the range mentioned.
At his current price Pietrangelo has been a huge bargain. He has blossomed into one of the best young defenseman in the NHL which will force the Blues to give him a hefty, competitive contract if they hope to keep him patrolling the blue line in St. Louis.
Pietrangelo, 22, has often been compared to LA's Drew Doughty - also 22. Doughty recently signed an eight-year, $56 million contract that will keep him with the Kings through the 2018-19 season. Doughty's contract carries an average cap hit of $7 million a year. Former Nashville Predator Ryan Suter signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild - a deal with an average cap hit of just over $7.5 million. As you can see, the Blues are going to have to pay Pietrangelo in a big way.
Realistically, what is Pietrangelo worth? A lot. Seriously. Last season was Pietrangelo's second full season at the NHL level. Inexperience aside, Pietrangelo typically looked like the most experienced player on the ice. His offensive game flourished as the defenseman tallied 51 points. At just 22, Pietrangelo has plenty of time to round into one of, if not the, best defenseman in the NHL. His 2011-12 season was so outstanding that even the notoriously biased ESPN even called for the St. Louis defenseman to take home the Norris Trophy over Shea Weber, Erik Karlsson and Zdeno Chara.
Based on his skill and the players he is compared to a range right around $7 million a year is the realistic price to keep Pietrangelo with the Blues.
Summarized, Pietrangelo is going to get paid. If the Blues want to retain him they will have to open up their wallet and lay down a sizable, long-term contract. Did you think T.J. Oshie's new five-year, $20ish million deal was big? Wait until you see Pietrangelo's.
A new deal for Pietrangelo probably won't come until the league has agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. The Blues have the luxury of time. Pietrangelo is still under contract for the upcoming season which will allow the Blues to examine the new CBA and then tackle Pietrangelo's contract after the dust has settled. You won't see the Blues running out trying to push through a massive contract until they know exactly what changes are coming with the new CBA.
Look for the Blues to address Pietrangelo's contract at some point during the 2012-13 season. They won't want impeding free agency to distract from Pietrangelo's play on the ice. They also don't want Pietrangelo to check out other offers for the fear his already high price may be pushed up even more by a wealthy suitor(s).
Alex Pietrangelo will be receiving a mammoth contract. Let's just hope it's 1) with the Blues and 2) a deal that the organization is able to take on without negative repercussions.