The St. Louis Blues added one top-end defenseman and then lost a premier defenseman. Despite the fact it will happen, fans should not compare the two players.
Now that we officially know that Torey Krug is a de facto replacement for Alex Pietrangelo, who signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, we can expect years of second guessing. However, that’s not really fair.
One things fans love to do, myself included, is compare players to those that were traded for against those that got sent packing. While it doesn’t happen quite as often, in situations like this one involving free agents, fans still feel the need to make it a comparison.
In a trade, the argument is a little more viable. Player A was swapped for Player B, so the deep dive into statistical analysis is at least understandable.
There are always mitigating factors that make even that scenario unfair, but at least it makes sense. Even though it is unavoidable, it really makes no sense to compare Krug to Pietrangelo.
My hope is that Blues fans will not do it. Judge Krug on his own merits, regardless of where he came from or who left town at the same time.
Firstly, it’s not fair simply because they are not the same player. Pietrangelo was a long, rangy defender who utilized stick position to bail him out and had the luxury of being 6’3. Krug is only 5’9, has to be a lot quicker on his feet to recover position and plays with a little more edge because he doesn’t have the physical size to take on offensive players.
Offensively, the two players are actually a wash. There’s a strange narrative out there, by some, that you get more goals from Pietrangelo and more points from Krug. The first part of that statement is not true.
If you judge their stats on the same timeline, i.e. the first 9 seasons of their career, Krug actually has more goals scored in fewer games played – 67 to 65. While Pietrangelo has basically as many 50 point seasons as Krug, Krug has been more consistent.
If the 2019-20 season had not been cut short, Krug would have had his fourth-straight 50-plus point season. Krug has not had a sub-40 point season since 2014-15 and even that year, he had 12 goals.
Defensively will be where the differences show up. It’s simply two different men with two different styles and skills.
Krug played a good amount of minutes, but we cannot automatically assume he’ll go from just over 20 minutes per game to 24-plus minutes like Pietrangelo. Just because they are both top pairing defensemen is not a reason to expect that jump.
Additionally, coming to a new team can have a high impact. We saw with Justin Faulk that he did not seem comfortable with the Blues or fan reaction until the playoffs rolled around. That’s almost an entire season played, plus the equivalent to an offseason due to the pandemic.
Though fans don’t want to believe it, Faulk is a good player that is worth the contract extension the Blues gave him, as long as he plays to form. Nevertheless, fans want to look at what Joel Edmundson is doing and compare them, even though different teams have different styles and players are put into different roles.
Fans also want to blame someone like Faulk, or possibly Krug now, for the loss of Pietrangelo. They are all separate incidents.
If you want to argue the Blues not giving Faulk an extension in a vacuum, that’s fine. However, just as many people would be upset at losing Edmundson and Dominik Bokk to what may have proven to be a rental. Fans don’t like making trades if you don’t keep a player, so the argument the extension was wrong is foolish.
Additionally, the contract was given prior to anyone even thinking there would be this kind of financial crisis. The cap was supposed to go up several million dollars, so the Blues would have had the funds quite easily just with the trade of Jake Allen.
Instead, an unforeseen event occurred that changed everyone’s financial landscape. You cannot blame a player for taking a contract extension, nor a team for giving one, when they had no clue it would have this kind of impact.
On the same token, you cannot judge Krug’s performance based on what Pietrangelo does.
Vegas is a heavy team, like the Blues, but they also play a more free-flow style. So, if Pietrangelo gets a bunch of points with them, it doesn’t automatically mean he would have had the same year with the Blues. Look at David Perron. We have not seen him get 50 assists with the Blues, but that does not mean he was not offensively affective.
If Krug only gets to 45 points this year, that does not mean he had a poor year. Perhaps the Blues asked him to take on more defensive responsibility than the Boston Bruins did.
There are just too many other factors that come into play to simply judge Pietrangelo against Krug. If Krug has a poor year compared to his own past, that’s something to discuss, just the same as it’s reasonable to compare Faulk’s past years to 2020.
Nevertheless, you know fans will simply say “oh well, look at what Petro is doing out in Vegas”, if he has a good season. It no longer matters.
The Blues needed to save the money for future contracts with other players and made that choice, whether you agree with it or not. Don’t blame Krug for that fact as he had nothing to do with it and simply signed with a team he hopes can win.