The St. Louis Blues might be playing a game of chicken with their captain and his agent. While every dollar counts, it’s a dangerous game to play.
The St. Louis Blues are in a tough situation regarding their salary cap. They are trying their best to be fair with their contract offers while also keeping themselves competitive for the future.
It is a tight rope to walk. You need to reward players for what they have done, but you cannot overspend and put yourself in a bind in the future.
St. Louis wants to keep their captain, Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo has said he wants to stay.
So, what’s the hold up? Well, the scary thing is the sides might not be as far apart as we would think, but there’s also a chasm starting to form.
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Jeremy Rutherford was on 101 ESPN on Tuesday, September 15. He spoke about the latest details regarding the contract situation. The link to the audio is below.
"PodcastOne: Blues insider Jeremy Rutherford believes Alex Pietrangelo is now committed to making plans to talking with other teamsBlues insider Jeremy Rutherford believes Alex Pietrangelo is now committed to making plans to talking with other teams"
We already knew that Pietrangelo was starting to get frustrated. He had a discussion with Pierre LeBrun where he openly voiced his displeasure that things had not been taken care of by this point.
While it seemed unlike both Petro or the Blues to be taking this issue to the media, there is an odd war of kind words going on. The problem is that’s a dangerous game of high stakes poker.
The Blues are clearly trying to save any dollar they can. You can call that cheap if you want, but it’s what every team has to do given the stagnant salary cap for the foreseeable future.
Even if the Blues could afford the high end what Pietrangelo asks for, they can’t view this situation in a vaccum. Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou will be restricted free agents next summer and Colton Parayko will need a new contract after that.
The Blues have all the right guys signed to pretty lengthy deals, but there are always young players needing raises. So, a dollar saved today might be better utilized later.
The worrying thing about trying this is you have to tread lightly. Right now, Rutherford claims Pietrangelo is willing to give the Blues a bit of a discount, but if this tact keeps up, the Blues might rub the wrong nerve and Petro walks out of spite.
Rutherford indicated we might be getting quite close to that happening. When he talked to Pietrangelo, the captain made it seem as though he would making plans to talk to other teams given the lack of development on an extension.
While it was a completely different situation and different management team, the Blues tried this out with Brett Hull in the past. It did not work.
We can debate things such as Hull wearing out his welcome or skill levels, etc. Bottom line is the Blues let one of their best players ever walk over contract negotiation tactics.
This might be understandable if there was a canyon’s worth of money separating the two sides. Rutherford’s interview with Rivs and BK made it sound like the money was not as far apart as either Doug Armstrong or Pietrangelo had made it seem.
Rutherford said his sources have suggested the Blues are willing to go to $7.7 million. Pietrangelo’s camp has given the indication they’d be willing to give the Blues a discount at $8.2 or $8.3 million, even though he could command $8.5-9 million on the market.
Again, discuss among yourselves your own sense of value vs. dollars, but even the most hardened fan would be hard pressed to name 10 better defenders, without debate. Every dollar does matter when the Blues are hard pressed to find cap room in the first place, but are the Blues really going to let a quality player slip away for as little as $500,000?
This all comes down to sources and the possibility that each side is just trying to manipulate things by leaking information. Rutherford is extremely reliable and rarely puts out anything he has not double checked.
Making matters worse, Pietrangelo is getting tired of the games. It’s one thing to bicker about money, but he is clearly showing frustration with how the situation is being handled.
The Blues might need to put on the kid gloves here. Yes, you need to save money if you can, but if you’re willing to negotiate up from $7.7 million, then just do it. If not, just tell them it’s $7.7 million or nothing and let Pietrangelo make the decision to walk.
The Blues cannot afford to push this to a scenario where they make Pietrangelo mad, come up to his level of $8.2 and he rebuffs them because he doesn’t feel respected.
You can talk about business all you want, but these people are humans. Emotions enter into the equation whether they should or not.
The Blues don’t have to simply give in right away. They cannot let this drag out forever either or they might miss their chance.