The St. Louis Blues are in an odd situation. Everything points to their captain wanting to stay and the team wanting to keep him, but that’s doesn’t factor into the end result.
The St. Louis Blues might have a situation unlike any we have seen before, or at least not seen in quite some time. Alex Pietrangelo seems to want to stay and the Blues want to keep him.
What could be wrong with that, or pose any problem? The problem is wanting it has nothing to do with it happening.
The problem is this situation boils down to real-life scenarios. We all want a million dollars, but wanting it doesn’t make it happen. How we go about getting it done is the real question.
The same is true for the Blues. They can want it, the fans can want it and their captain can want it. That doesn’t make a bit of difference.
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Pietrangelo has said the goal was to get something done from day one. “The goal is to get something done,” said Pietrangelo, as reported by Lou Korac. “That’s been the goal since the beginning. We’ll see where things go. [The] focus right now is to get through this thing healthy and playing. We’ll see where things end up.”
The Blues would be foolish to not want Pietrangelo to stay, if the price was right. We can argue about other players being ready to step up, or who might fill the roster hole, but the fact remains that Pietrangelo is a Norris Trophy candidate right now. Nobody else on the roster is, even if they should be.
It still circles back to the how. We can all want Pietrangelo to sign a new deal, but how can he? How can the Blues? There are too many unknowns right now.
Of course, the Blues probably made certain moves, like extending Justin Faulk, with the idea that the salary cap would go up by several million dollars. St. Louis might have needed no moves to afford Pietrangelo.
Now, they are in a position where they might have to drop several current NHL players off their roster to afford their captain’s services. The Blues do have exciting prospects coming through, but it is still an uncomfortable feeling to know you have to remove several players for the sake of one.
For argument’s sake, if they packaged both, they would barely earn enough space to afford what Pietrangelo is rumored to want, i.e. around $9 million. That doesn’t give you any room to afford Vince Dunn, let alone any of the prospects that would need to fit into the cap to take Allen and Bozak’s spots.
You could start looking at Alex Steen. It seems unlikely the Blues would part with their long-tenured forward so late in his career, but it would be another $5.75.
The problem with any of those moves is it only buys you space for 2020-21. After that, you might run into problems with other contract, like Jordan Binnington.
Another issue with the how is teams understanding the situation. You can only afford to get prospects or draft picks in any of these trades, since you can’t afford to bring on any NHL salary. Even with that in mind, teams will look to take advantage of Doug Armstrong’s predicament.
A trade for Jake Allen might normally fetch a second round pick, maybe even a first from the right buyer. Suddenly, that pick becomes a fourth round pick because other GM’s realize the situation.
You could trade Jaden Schwartz, which would upset a lot of fans, but might get more back in return than any of the other players. While I would be fine trading Schwartz, in and of itself, he is a piece that should normally fetch an NHL player or a prospect that is close. Trading him for nothing but a draft pick or cash considerations would be tough to stomach.
Yet another problem is not just having to make the deals, but when. Armstrong has said Pietrangelo’s contract will wait until after the season and that’s not just GM talk.
Think about it. If Pietrangelo signed a new deal tomorrow, Armstrong would have to be making trade calls during the playoffs (off the record calls). There is little doubt the team would realize that and any distraction during the Stanley Cup Playoffs is as unwelcome as a wasp in your house.
Even after the season, how does the circumstance play out? Do you trade a couple players and hope that’ll be enough to fit the contract? Or, do you sign the extension and hope you can make enough trades to afford that?
It’s a complicated scenario, to be sure. Time will tell how it plays out, but don’t expect any real news on it any time soon, no matter what rumors you hear.