Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Armstrong makes it clear he'd like to re-sign Pietrangelo

Challenge will be finding common ground between team, 
player to fit under current, future salary structure for team captain

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo made it known again of his desire to resign with the Blues on Tuesday.

Doug Armstrong let his stance be known on Wednesday, and the Blues' general manager and his captain are on the same page, which will make Blues fans happy in the end.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made it clear he'd like to sign
defenseman and captain Alex Pietrangelo (right) to a contract.

"I've said this really since July of '19, Alex is our captain," Armstrong said Wednesday in a season-ending Zoom interview. "I've grown up with Alex in this organization and he's grown up with me in this organization. I'd like to see that continue for a number of years moving forward and that's my focus right now."

OK, now the hard part. How to make this happen.

Pietrangelo, 30, can become an unrestricted free agent and hit the open market one week after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final is over, which is expected to be sometime in the first week of October unless he re-signs with the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2008; he just finished up a seven-year, $45.5 million contract ($6.5 million average annual value) and obviously is looking for A) stability in terms of length of contract, which the Blues can offer a max of eight years, or he can get seven on the open market, and B) a pay raise.

But in order to get some or all of those things accomplished, the Blues will likely have to move some parts, most likely through trade in order to clear up salary cap space since the cap will not move off it's $81.5 million number, and do they want to commit to the longer length in contract? But instead of entering what could be tricky negotiations, Armstrong actually feels like this one won't be so tricky.

"I don't think so. Actually, I think they're going to be easier because for the first time in a number of years, I think we know what the cap's going to be moving forward for potentially, four, five, six years," Armstrong said. "From a business standpoint, there's no projection that it's going to go from $81.5 to $87 to $94 to $101 (million). You know it's probably going to stay in within a few percentage points of where it's at now for a number of years. I think there's actually more information than less this year."

So Armstrong will likely be, unless he already is, busy speaking with fellow GM's around the league talking trade. 

"I think the first phase is going to be to find out if we can find common ground with Alex, and if we do then go to work to move other pieces," Armstrong said. "It is really an either-or that if we can't find common ground with Alex, then there's really no need to do anything. And if we can find common ground with Alex, then there's a need to do a lot. Until we get Phase 1 done, obviously I've talked to different managers to find out what their goals are, what they're trying to accomplish. Do we have pieces that allow them to accomplish what they want."

The challenge for Armstrong will be looking ahead, and that means looking at other contracts on the books that will be expiring down the line, like Jaden Schwartz, who has one year at a $5.35 million cap hit, Vince Dunn, who is a restricted free agent and will need a new deal but is not arbitration-eligible, and most importantly, Colton Parayko, who has two years remaining on his contract at a $5.5 million cap hit.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo can become an unrestricted free agent 
this off-season if the team doesn't resign their captain to a new contract.

"(The salary cap) affects us but it's affecting everybody around the league in the same fashion," Armstrong said. "I think one of the things too that may be different and again, our ownership is committed to competing with the top teams and spending to the salary cap. I'm not sure all other organizations have that same philosophy moving forward. There was a lot of revenue that wasn't earned this year. How's the revenue going to be earned next year and are you a cash or cap team? I think that most teams were cap teams. I would imagine there would be some more cash teams now, and that's going to affect on how they do it. I don't expect anyone to say, 'Oh well, St. Louis, they really want to sign Petro, so let's help them out.' That's not reality, so it's going to take some moving parts. My goal is I hope to get to that because we've got our captain under contract."

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