What is going to happen to Alex Pietrangelo? It’s the however many years, however many million dollar question that every Blues fan and hockey analyst continues to ask. That was asked before there was a pandemic and now we approach a return in play with a possible set-back in the salary cap. Does it make sense to re-sign a 30-year old defenseman? What will the team look like without him? All viable questions but there’s simply one answer in my eyes. Resign him.
Start with the obvious, elite NHL defensemen do not come along often. Alex Pietrangelo has become one of those after his last three seasons in the NHL. All three seasons he finished with 45 or more points, he finished top-15 in TOI (time on ice) and he plays every aspect for his team (Even strength, power-play and penalty kill). If that doesn’t set the bar for you then look at his NHL career. Over a 12-year career, Pietrangelo has finished in the top-10 voting for the Norris trophy (best overall defenseman) three times. Finally, he was the captain of a Stanley Cup championship team.
Next is what Pietrangelo brings to the team both on and off the ice. Leadership is a quality that may be goffed at but Petro has been the captain of this team since Backes left in the 2016 off-season and his voice holds weight in the team’s locker room. It also comes down to what they have in their captain, experience. 12 years in the league is a lot of service time but most defenseman never gain the confidence to be a top guy on their team or the league. After the last few years of manning the PP unit, logging top minutes in the NHL and winning a Stanley Cup. His confidence is at an all-time high.
The service time is another aspect that should go in favor of a contract extension for Pietrangelo. Many will say that 30-years old is an “too old” to receive that type of money but let’s take a peek into the past for a moment:
• Chris Pronger (age 31-37 seasons): 342 points, 569 GP, 3 Stanley Cup Finals, One Championship
• Al MacInnis (age 30-40 seasons): 534 points, 688 GP, 10 straight playoff appearance, 1 Norris Trophy
• Nicklas Lidstrom (age 30-41 seasosns) 646 points, 871 GP, 7 Norris Trohpies, 2 Championships
Now, by no means am I saying that Pietrangelo is a Pronger, MacInnis or Lidstrom but what I’m trying to relay is that defenseman are like aged wine, they improve as the years go on. So a 6-year contract shouldn’t frighten the Blues because if health is on Petro’s side, the Blues could have an even better defenseman for years to come.
Finally, let’s look at what could be if Pietrangelo goes elsewhere. Can Parayko become the #1 defenseman for the St. Louis Blues? Sure. But, I’m not so sure he’s ready for that responsibility to man the PP, PK and 5-5 in big moments of the game. He will be going into his 6th NHL season with this year being the most in average TOI that he’s played. Without Pietrangelo the Blues will be relying on Parayko and Faulk to handle the responsibility that Pietrangelo and Parayko handle right now. It’s not that those two couldn’t do it but there is a comfort level for this team knowing that #27 is there in major moments which you cannot replace.
We heard Alex give an update on his contract situation, Thursday, on Rivs and BK saying “It’s been quiet. I’ve kept most of this stuff internal. What I can say is that me and my wife have taken our time to decide what the most move is”.
For the sake of the many Cup chances in the near future, let’s hope that Blues don’t keep things quiet much longer and find a way to get a contract done with their captain.