The St. Louis Blues want their captain to stay. They need to plan on him not, which means they have to have backup plans.
The St. Louis Blues have reportedly made their first offer to captain Alex Pietrangelo. As one might expect, it’s not something the defenseman is going to accept, but it’s a start.
However, the flip side of all this is the Blues needing to consider other options. They cannot put all their eggs in the Pietrangelo basket if his agency is going to go for max money and max term, no matter what.
Given the Blues lack of salary cap space, there actually is an option that would be of interest. It’s something that one of our writers, Tyler Andrus already looked at in the past. It might make even more sense now.
The Blues could bring back Joel Edmundson. It would be a cheaper option than the huge amount Pietrangelo would want and give the Blues more flexibility for the future.
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In this scenario, the Blues would have Pietrangelo decide to sign elsewhere. They would also need to let Vince Dunn walk.
Best case scenario, Dunn would get an offer sheet so that the Blues could gain draft pick compensation. If not, he would still be allowed to explore other options.
St. Louis would then see if his spot could be filled by Scott Perunovich. If we are honest, nobody knows if Perunovich is NHL ready right now, but the team has to be high on him to give him an initial rookie contract of $925,000.
Perunovich is a very similar player to Dunn already. If you’re going to run the risk of defensive deficiencies, you might as well do it with the cheaper option.
Edmundson is not a like for like replacement for Pietrangelo at all. However, we know he fits the Blues system, gives you some grit that was missing from their 2020 playoff run and is a good fit in the locker room.
This would just be an initial roster prediction should the Blues actually make this choice. Training camp, whenever that might be, would decide everyone’s fate that might be a question mark.
Do not forget that Niko Mikkola has a one-way NHL contract starting in 2020-21. That means he’s either going to have to start the year in the AHL or stay on the Blues because he’d have to clear waivers to send him to Springfield (assuming there is even an AHL season for 2020-21).
Mikkola is a left-handed defenseman, so he keeps some of the lefty/righty matchups in tact. The Blues are unlikely to get rid of Gunnarsson, so Mikkola gets a spot if Perunovich doesn’t make it out of camp.
Of course, these moves can’t happen in vacuum. The same problem the Blues face regarding keeping Pietrangelo is what they face to bring in Edmundson or a forward or any player.
Just to make these moves, the Blues would still have to clear some space. The roughly $2 million in space is not going to be enough.
Nevertheless, it would not have to be moving the sun and the moon like it would need to be to keep Petro.
If you bring back Edmundson on a contract similar to what he has now, $3.1, you can still bring in Klim Kostin and Perunovich. All three of those fit in under the same total as the contract you trade away. That gives Doug Armstrong the current cap space of around $2 million as a safety cushion.
As far as pure talent, of course it would be better to keep Pietrangelo. In all three phases of the game combined, it would be hard not to think of Petro as one of the top 10 defensemen in the league.
However, it is also hard to imagine the Blues being as complete as a team if they have to trade as many as three players just to afford their current captain.
While the Blues do not want to restart, they do need to look to the future a little. Perunovich is a similar player to Dunn and cheaper, so there seems to be little risk unless he is simply not ready for the big time yet.
Edmundson is a second or third pairing defender, so he’s not a replacement for Petro, but nobody would be. It would need to be by committee and he could be a solid defensive pair for Faulk. He could also be a very talented third pairing lefty if the Blues wanted to slide Gunnarsson alongside Faulk on the second pair.
In terms of the future, the Blues might be better served keeping that $2 million in space in their back pocket. They have both Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou coming as free agents next offseason and Parayko is up in two years.
With the cap unlikely to go up in the near future, all the cash space you can hold on to might be better utilized later rather than right now.