The Vegas Golden Knights have made their presence felt during this shortened NHL offseason by snapping up the biggest prize of this free agent frenzy, former St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. They inked Pietrangelo to a seven-year deal worth $61.6 million in total on Monday.
The Golden Knights also announced that the deal, which pays the 30-year-old $8.8 million a year, more than all but four other blue-liners in the league, also includes a no-movement clause. Despite the big price tag, they are definitely excited about the prospect of adding the perennial All-Star defenseman.
“[Alex] was extremely prepared. He had been in conversation with a lot of people about our organization,” said Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon, “It was clear to see how anxious he is to continue to win. He made the comment that winning the Stanley Cup has made him hungrier to do it again. So the commitment to winning is certainly a really big factor in his choosing to come here in this stage of his career.”
McCrimmon certainly put in the work to make room on his balance sheet for the two-time All-Star’s big fat contract. First he traded away center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets, then he cleared $5.95 million off the books just before signing Pietrangelo by trading away veteran defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2022 third-rounder. McCrimmon is also expected to move aging backup netminder Marc-Andre Fleury before the start of the season in an effort to push the team under the cap.
Before last season the Golden Knights were ranked by oddsmakers as the second-most likely team to win it all (behind the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning, so maybe those bookmakers do know what they’re doing?) and they’re in the same spot this season, sitting just behind the Colorado Avalanche with 9.00 odds on 888sports to win the big Cup next season.
The Blues, who Pietrangelo’s been with since they drafted him fourth overall bin 2008, had offered him an eight-year contract worth $8 million a year previously, but the two sides could not agree on several points, such as the no-movement clause and a signing bonus built into the early part of his contract. Apparently there were no hard feelings, and the Blues signed defenseman Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal in what seemed like a corresponding move.
Pietrangelo had put together quite the distinguished career during his decade in St. Louis, racking up 109 goals, 341 assists, and 450 points in 758 regular season games, while also clinching the franchise’s only Stanley Cup with a Game 7 goal in 2019. The 30-year-old also just put up career-highs in goals (16) and points per game (0.74) in his 10th year, which was a shortened season.
“He has been a stalwart player for us, for this team for a number of years. A huge part of a championship caliber team. He’s going to go down so far as one of the best Blues ever,” lauded Armstrong.
He’s already one of the greatest Blues of all-time, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be trying to earn that distinction for his second franchise, the Golden Knights, during this mammoth seven-year deal. Joining a team with just three years of history and a quality shot at Stanley Cup glory every year will certainly give Petro a good chance at achieving that very soon.