Singing the Blues

How St. Louis should be preparing for the worst to come

Alex Pietrangelo (hockeytroll)

Let me start off with a list to describe a player for you.

  • 6 feet, 3 inches,

  • 210 pounds,

  • Right Hand shot defenceman,

  • 757 NHL games of experience,

  • 450 Career NHL points,

  • NHL Captaincy leadership

  • and a Stanley cup champion,

  • Olympic Gold Medalist,

  • World Cup Champion.


Does that not sound appealing? Wouldn’t any franchise benefit gaining a player of this stature by adding them to their locker room? What if I told you this player was only making $6.5 million dollars? Outrageous right? Well it’s true. Enter upcoming UFA Alex Pietrangelo. Currently making $6.5 million per season, the 30-year-old 10-year NHL veteran will be in-line for a pay raise once this off-season comes. But will the franchise that drafted and developed him be able to pay him the money he is worth? Well yes and no, but either way the Blues are in for a doosie one way or another.


Coming off a 2019 Stanley Cup Championship, unlike most franchises St. Louis did not need to clear house and trade half their roster - as the trend dictates once you make a deep run in the playoffs. The Blues are a very good team and have one of the best depth rosters in the NHL to prove it. The ultimate question is what they value more, their captain or their depth, because one of the two will have to go. Going into this off season, the Blues only have two notable pending UFA’s, one being Jay Bouwmeester and the other Pietrangelo. The uncertainty of Bouwmeester’s playing career would more than likely result in his cap hit of $3.65 million coming off the books for the Blues. That sounds like great news, right? Cap possibly increasing means more money to spend on Pietrangelo. Sorry Blues fans, as good as your team is, there are still some issues here.


It seems like the days began to count down for Petro in St. Louis when the Blues went out

Pietrangelo with the Stanley Cup (NHL.com)

and acquired right-handed offensive defenceman Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes. The trade saw Justin Faulk and a 2020 5th round pick going to St. Louis in exchange for defenceman Joel Edmundson, prospect Dominik Bokk and a 2021 7th round pick. This was St. Louis covering what they knew would be a massive hole in the lineup if their captain did depart the team in the offseason. Right after they acquired Faulk, the team signed him to a seven year $45.5 million-dollar contract with an AAV of $6.5 million. Does that not seem like a familiar number? Almost the exact same that their captain is making. Ironic that it starts in the same year that Petro is slated to become an UFA. Faulk got a pay raise of just under $2 million. But wouldn’t you rather use that money to pay your captain? You would think so. Faulk is two years younger than Petro but nowhere near approaches the same accolades and career success. Wouldn’t you want to keep the face of your franchise? The man who led your team to that Cup. The man who had this iconic photo.


Looking at what Blue’s General Manager Doug Armstrong has done with his franchise is nothing outside of amazing. There is no better place than to build your franchise through the draft. Armstrong has drafted a considerable amount of talent that is impacting his roster today with picks such as:


  • Jaden Schwartz (14th overall – 2010)

  • Vladimir Tarasenko 16th overall – 2010)

  • Jordan Binnington (88th overall – 2011)

  • Mackenzie MacEachern (67th overall- 2012)

  • Colton Parayko (86th overall – 2012)

  • Ivan Barbashev (33rd overall – 2014)

  • Samuel Blais (176th overall – 2014)

  • Vince Dunn (56th overall – 2015)

  • Jordan Kyrou (35th overall – 2016)

  • Robert Thomas (20th overall – 2017)


These are only the picks that are currently playing on their roster that Armstrong drafted. There are many other picks such as: Joel Edmunson (2011), Dimitri Jaskin (2011), Willian Carrier (2013), Tage Thompson (2016), Klim Kostin (2017). These are all players that Armstrong drafted and kept or traded away for other assets. Either way, he knows what he is doing. When it comes to drafting, he seems like a genius and hits his picks. He has also done a great job at creating a roster and making trades to bolster that roster. But he hasn’t handled this Petro situation well. Armstrong has shown he isn’t afraid to give extensions before the UFA or RFA period in offering contracts to players like:


  • Justin Faulk – 7 years, $6.5 mill AAV

(+2.350mill)


  • Brayden Schenn – 8 years, $6.5mill AAV

(+1.375mill)


  • Marco Scandella – 4 years, $3.275mill AAV

(+1.275mill)


  • Samuel Blais – 2 years, $1.5mill AAV

(+800,000)


  • Mackenzie MacEachern – 2 years, $900,000 AAV

(+150,000)

Pietrangelo celebrates a goal (NHL)

Between these five extensions, Armstrong gave out raises that are just shy of $6 million dollars per year sitting at $5.950mill per season. Now after doing all this going into the offseason, the Blues are sitting roughly $1.5 million over the cap. Do you not think that within this cap he gave out he could have found room to bring Petro back and give him the pay raise he deserves? I believe he could have. Personally, if I am the captain of your franchise and we just won the Stanley Cup and I see all these players getting extensions, how do I not feel insulted?


As mentioned before, St. Louis is a great organization. On a great day when their entire roster is healthy, they have a player in Tyler Bozak with 733 NHL games experience playing on their third line. They have the means to contend for the next couple years without a doubt. But how do you go about it without having one of, if not the most integral piece on your team? You can have all the depth in the world in your franchise, but you still need those impact players. In order for the Blues to bring Petro back there will have to be changes from their current roster. St. Louis doesn’t have any outrageous contracts with their highest paid player being Ryan O’Reilly making 7.5 million for the next three seasons. But there are contracts that will be hard to move. There are however still some contracts that you can look at and say “they can move these players to make it work”. Let’s take a look, and explain why it will be harder than it looks.


Alexander Steen (36 years old)

  • 5,750 million AAV

  • One-year remaining on contract

  • Holds no trade clause


Tyler Bozak (34 years old)

  • 5 million AAV

  • One year remaining on contract

  • Modified 10 team no trade clause


David Perron (31 years old)

  • 4 million AAV

  • Two years remaining on contract

  • Modified 5 team no trade clause


Carl Gunnarsson (33 years old)

  • 1.750 million AAV

  • One year remaining on contract

  • Modified 5 team no trade clause


Jake Allen (29 years old)

  • 4.350 million AAV

  • One year remaining on contract

  • Very overpaid


These are all candidates that could be traded to clear up cap space. There will be rebuilding teams that will have available cap space if the Blues would look to try and trade these players to those teams, such as Ottawa, Los Angeles & New Jersey to name a few. But some questions begin to arise, would the teams be willing to take on this salary? With all the players they may have to re-sign or want to target in free agency, will they? These teams aren’t going to take on this extra salary for nothing so what else will the Blues have to give up? Do they think that it’s worth it in the end? This entire situation will be even more problematic as Vince Dunn is also an RFA at the season's end as well, he too will also require an extension. Yes, it will be cheaper than Petro and probably easier to figure out, however, if that deal gets done before Petro’s I do not see how he doesn’t walk not for the fact that they cannot figure it out, but for the sole fact of being insulted.


The Blues have been a very well-run franchise and in turn did find success in winning the

Stanley Cup. Although they have embraced the championship and winning mentality, they are not handling this situation as a good championship organization should. Only time will tell to see how this situation plays out but if I was a gambling man, I wouldn’t be counting on his return to the Blues organization for the 2020-21 season.


Salary information courtesy from Capfriendly.com.

Player information courtesy from eliteprospects.com, hockeydb.com, dailyfaceoff.com, and hockey reference.com.

Draft information courtesy from puckpedia.ca.


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