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Roll The Dice On Alex Pietrangelo?

from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,

It’s believed that he’s asking for something around $7 million per year, which is what it costs to sign that type of player these days.

Well, it comes down to Armstrong’s appetite for risk. It is … limited. He’s learned from the mistakes he made in Dallas. This is not a GM who throws money at a player simply because someone else could and did. He’s a live-within-your-means type of guy in a world where everyone else is trying to keep up the neighbors.

And right now, he’s not ready to handcuff himself to a player who has flirted with superstardom, but isn’t yet at that level. In fact, after putting together a breakthrough campaign in 2011-12 that earned him recognition as a Norris Trophy finalist, the 23-year-old’s play slipped last season, which forces Armstrong to think long and hard about what kind of player Pietrangelo really is before deciding how to handle the restricted free agent.

Can he be that superstar who elevates his play and puts his teammates on his back when it matters most? That’s certainly the consensus among long-suffering Blues fans. Or is he just another really good player, a supporting piece to hold down that spot on the top pair until something better comes along?

Should Armstrong treat Pietrangelo as the face, and future, of the franchise and hand him a seven- or eight-year deal that chains him to the franchise? That’s not the kind of thing he does. His longest offer was the five-year deal given to T.J. Oshie last summer. So does he hedge his bet with a similar offer? Or does he essentially ask Pietrangelo to prove himself with a two-year bridge deal?

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Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+pietrangelo

Comments

Hootinani's avatar

You can’t blow sunshine up a guys ass for 3 years, and then when it comes contract time try and convince him he isn’t worth it.  Especially when he has the numbers to back it up, and there aren’t any other options available.

The organization has been talking Pietrangelo up since they drafted him every chance they get, and he has performed pretty damn well for them.  If last year is an example of an off-year for him, I think they’ll be ok.  Not too mention, any contract going forward shouldn’t be untradable, unless the player completely tanks, ala Redden.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/23/13 at 03:49 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I was hoping the Wings would put an offer sheet on him just to screw with the Blues, but I suspect that kind of stuff comes back to haunt.

Posted by MoreShoot on 07/23/13 at 03:56 PM ET

Avatar

Hootinani nailed it, but I see where they’re coming from. All Armstrong has to do is talk to his buddy Darcy Rieger about giving a young defenceman too much term and $ based on a small(ish) sample size.

Having said that, I think they’ll cave and give him something in the Karlsson neighborhood.

Posted by Chris M on 07/23/13 at 04:19 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I saw a piece in THN about Pietrangelo and I think they were suggesting that there are pretty much no suitors for him in the current market.

Posted by MoreShoot on 07/23/13 at 04:21 PM ET

Joe Z.'s avatar

Yeah just let him walk, or work out a trade with Detroit for some of their forwards….

Posted by Joe Z. from Austria on 07/23/13 at 04:39 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

It’s all about finding surplus value on a contract. The Blues have some decent leverage here to find that surplus value given that he is restricted and doesn’t yet have arbitration rights.

Because Pietrangelo doesn’t have arbitration rights, he has incentive to take a lower AAV in exchange for more term, as the money is guaranteed anyways in the case of injury, and he lowers the risk that he sustains injury or his play drops significantly before he has arbitration rights and/or before he has UFA rights.

The Blues—if they believe in Pietrangelo as their #1 D—have every reason to be more than willing to offer up longer term (6 - 8 years) in exchange for a somewhat lower AAV, because that’s where they get surplus value on the deal by him likely performing at a higher level potentially for every year of the contract (but at the very least, expected for his prime age seasons, like 27 - 29).

Obviously, the wild card is the offer sheet, and I don’t think any fan can really know how legitimate of a wild card that is. I guess it basically comes down to the Blues front office having some feel for what could be going on in other front offices, and what the mood is among the other GMs when it comes to signing those deals. Now that we’re past amnesty buyouts and most clubs’ cap status has taken decent shape, I would think the Blues can at least make an educated decision as to the likelihood that they’re vulnerable to an offer sheet. Give that they’re $8 million and change under the cap, and an offer sheet that big is basically prohibitively expensive for the team putting it out there, my gut feeling is that the Blues don’t have to be too concerned about that.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/23/13 at 04:41 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I saw a piece in THN about Pietrangelo and I think they were suggesting that there are pretty much no suitors for him in the current market.
Posted by MoreShoot on 07/23/13 at 04:21 PM ET

Being an RFA, I’m not sure what that has to do with his value besides the threat of an offer sheet, but I’m sure they would find a team for him in a sign-n-trade if thats the route they wanted to go. 

But more than likely if they really wanna play hardball with him, he’ll sit out like Doughty and Subban and get the contract that he wants anyway.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/23/13 at 04:46 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

All Armstrong has to do is talk to his buddy Darcy Rieger about giving a young defenceman too much term and $ based on a small(ish) sample size.

Posted by Chris M on 07/23/13 at 04:19 PM ET

Myers is still very young. People are way to quick to write that off as a bad signing. On the one hand, yes, the Sabres are on the hook for 6 more years @ $5.5 million if Myers doesn’t trend back upwards. But on the other hand… the Sabres have Myers for 6 more years @ only $5.5 million if he trends back upward. There’s plenty of time for that deal to easily show a lot of surplus value, as comparable players (and many worse, and many older players) are drawing bigger cap hits.

I’d take the chance on Myers. This is really the name of the game now (and really always should’ve been)—you don’t pay a guy for his past performance, you pay him for what you think he’s going to produce over the life of the contract you are signing him to.

It is riskier, but the days are gone where you could be a team like the Wings, Avs, or even the Stars and Devils to a certain degree, and just focus your effort and dollars on signing long-time veterans in UFA, where you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to be getting from them in their early- and mid-30s.

You will cap yourself out real fast if you are good enough at drafting and developing to get a group of multiple very good young players, but aren’t willing to take the risk of signing them before they reach the talent level you are projecting for them.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/23/13 at 04:52 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The Blues—if they believe in Pietrangelo as their #1 D—have every reason to be more than willing to offer up longer term (6 - 8 years) in exchange for a somewhat lower AAV

The problem is that an 8 year deal takes him to 31 and 11 years of service, and eats up 4 years of UFA status.  Players (and especially their agents) don’t give up UFA years for nothing.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/23/13 at 04:57 PM ET

Avatar

It’s believed that he’s asking for something around $7 million per year, which is what it costs to sign that type of player these days.

That’s pretty much all that had to be said.

Nobody knows if Pietrangelo is going to get better, and whether he does or not is entirely besides the point.  As of right now he plays 25+ a night, plays top pairing minutes in all three phases, has some size, and scores a little.

That all by itself is worth 6-7 mil easy… and the freaking jerk is only 23, so the idea that he’s peaked after three solid seasons is a shaky one at best.

I mean, come on.  There’s not a one for one trade on Detroit’s roster I’d turn down for the kid.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/23/13 at 07:38 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The Wings honestly can’t go after guys like Myers and Pietrangelo.  Not without moving a young d-man or two back out then.  They’re already too young on D as-is.  The d-man DET needs is an experienced, steadying vet presence.

Honestly, that’s what Myers needs too, and I’ve read is why BUF traded to bring his old defensive partner back to play with him.  He’s still a project and needs help.  Just remember what happens sometimes when teams give up on d-man projects too soon… you end up watching Zdeno Chara succeeding elsewhere in your conference.

Just for fun NAS should offer sheet Pietrangelo.  Oh the angles and fireworks that’d ensue.

Posted by Primis on 07/23/13 at 11:35 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

The problem is that an 8 year deal takes him to 31 and 11 years of service, and eats up 4 years of UFA status.  Players (and especially their agents) don’t give up UFA years for nothing.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/23/13 at 04:57 PM ET

Sure, I’m not suggesting the Blues could sign him for 8 years at $5 million AAV. But could they sign him for under what his UFA AAV would be if they give him that term? I think they could, because the contracts are guaranteed. It would be stupid of Pietrangelo not to take that kind of deal. Leave a little bit on the table for the security that you will still make a truckload of money through age 31 no matter what happens to your play or if you sustain an unfortunate injury. The only exceptions in my mind are if A) he doesn’t trust the Blues to continue to build a good team that can be a Cup contender or B) he has family considerations that lead him to wanting to live somewhere else.

If he’s happy in St. Louis in both a personal and hockey sense, it makes sense to leave a decent amount of AAV on the table to get the 8th year.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/24/13 at 09:39 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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