Alex Pietrangelo has found a new home. The former do everything captain of the 2018-19 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues is headed to Vegas. As had been widely reported, the right defenseman is signing with the Golden Knights. They had to clear room. After trading Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg, they moved defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Canucks for a third round pick.
All this for a team that doesn’t care how much it spends. Even with the flat salary cap holding steady at $81.5 million, the Golden Knights are all about winning. They have no loyalty either. Just ask Marc-Andre Fleury about that after Robin Lehner replaced him as the starting goalie and was re-signed for five years at $25 million. Fleury remains in limbo with Vegas trying to find a taker. But most of the goalie market has been covered. They may wind up keeping Fleury as a quality backup to Lehner.
The issue for Vegas is they’re still over the cap by less than a million. According to puckpedia.com, they’re currently at $82.47 million. So, they still have to subtract another player after signing Pietrangelo to a seven-year deal worth $8.8 million per year. That’ll be the cap hit for the 30-year old veteran defenseman, who’ll play top pair.
Of course, the Knights handed Pietrangelo a full No-Movement Clause over the seven years. Yikes. He’s going to be in his mid 30’s by Year Four of that contract. He’s a very good player who plays good defense and can supply offense. In 70 games last season, the steady defenseman had a career high 16 goals with 36 assists for 52 points and a plus-11 rating. A dependable player, he averaged 24:11 of ice-time per game. For his 12-year career, he’s averaged 24:38.
In 758 games spent in St. Louis, Pietrangelo registered 109 goals with 341 assists for a total of 450 points and a plus-77 rating. The biggest highlight coming last year when he helped lead the Blues to their first ever Cup. During that run which included a close call in the second round over the Stars and stunning the Bruins to win Game Seven in Boston for the Cup, he tallied three goals and 16 helpers for 19 points over 26 games.
He’ll go down as one of the best Blues ever. That’s how much Pietrangelo meant to that team. Unfortunately, he had to move on once St. Louis decided to sign former Bruins defenseman Torey Krug for seven years at an average cap hit of $6.5 million. It’ll certainly be strange to see Krug in a Blues jersey while Pietrangelo will wear Golden Knights colors.
That’s what happens in a cap era. There’s so much player movement that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. I’m still shocked Taylor Hall chose the Sabres for only a year at $8 million while leaving money on the table. But it allows him to keep his options open while betting on himself. Buffalo is banking on it to end a nine-year playoff drought.
In a cap cutting move, the Islanders unloaded defenseman Devon Toews to the Avalanche for two second round picks. Not what I would’ve done. But that’s what they’re facing due to the restricted status of Mat Barzal. He is due a significant raise. Plus Ryan Pulock is a Group II free agent. They also would like to re-sign unrestricted free agent Matt Martin. The Isles don’t have a lot of room.
The other significant signing was made by the Canadiens. After striking out on Hall, they inked Tyler Toffoli for a four year contract worth $17 million. A good move for a solid two-way forward that can play at five, power play and penalty kill.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all who celebrate. That’ll do it for now. I’ll have more later on Rangers top pick Alexis Lafreniere signing his entry level contract.