St. Louis Blues: Analyzing the decision not to retain Alex Pietrangelo

Anger, sadness, and disappointment probably best describe the reaction from most St. Louis Blues fans when Alex Pietrangelo left via free agency for the Vegas Golden Knights. Was the decision to allow him to leave the correct one from GM Doug Armstrong?
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

First, there are mixed reports that Alex Pietrangelo wanted to stay in St. Louis. He was initially vocal about his desire to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues.

However, since his departure, some fans have doubted that he genuinely sought to remain in St. Louis.

Should general manager Doug Armstrong have been more aggressive in his negotiations to retain Pietrangelo?

The St. Louis Blues made the right decision to allow him to walk

Money talks. If the St. Louis Blues offered and negotiated a similar contract to what the Golden Knights provided, perhaps Pietrangelo would be in St. Louis today.

However, his contract is massive, one of the largest in the NHL.

Pietrangelo’s deal is odd. It is structured in original signing bonuses and incentives and amounts to around $61.6 million over a seven-year contract.

In the upcoming 2024-25, his contract is around $12.5 million, going down the next two seasons.

Although his contract was out of the ordinary, he was compensated gradually, resulting in a substantial and lengthy agreement.

Pietrangelo was arguably the heart of the St. Louis Blues, but the deal would have been a real obstacle for the Blues

Pietrangelo briefly played alongside Justin Faulk and was essentially replaced by Torey Krug. Faulk, Krug, and Parayko earn about $6.5 million annually.

Their salary is set, in contrast to Pietrangelo’s alternating deal. It’s clear that Armstrong prefers managing contracts with a focus on a set contract.

Of course, Pietrangelo is a three-time All-Star, with his last appearance in 2022, but this still doesn’t negate the fact that such a large contract would have hurt the Blues and their future around Robert Thomas and up-and-coming prospects.

Nobody defends the lengthy, hefty contracts of Brayden Schenn, Parayko, Faulk, and Krug. However, Pietrangelo alone could not carry the Blues on his shoulders.

His situation in Vegas was ideal for him to enter a winning situation and join a team willing to pay him, arguably above market value, when he signed the contract.

Say what you will about Armstrong and his decision to let (perhaps) Pietrangelo walk.

Pietrangelo made $12.3 million (bonuses and base salary) for the 2023-24 season. He finished the season with 33 points in 64 games. The salary doesn’t justify the production, even if injuries altered his play.

With a bold move, the Golden Knights signed Pietrangelo to a lengthy contract and now have a Cup under their belt with him on the roster. Armstrong wasn’t willing to take the same risks.

St. Louis Blues fans must ask, if Pietrangelo hadn’t left, would he have been able to fill the current voids in defense alone? Most likely not.