October 9 will be the start of the most challenging and unusual free agent frenzy in recent memory, where a number of players may be forced to take a year or two or a million or two less on a deal with the club they are currently with or willing to do to.
One of the few who should get close to market value is blueliner Alex Pietrangelo, but it is beginning to appear that only will be the case if he decides to sign somewhere other than St. Louis. The Blues team captain has expressed his desire to stay with the club that drafted him one pick ahead of Luke Schenn in 2008, but the two sides continue to apart on a new deal.
“It’s been a little disappointing that we haven’t been able to get a deal done, obviously,” Pietrangelo said to Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic. “But this is the situation that we’re in, we’re over three weeks away from Oct. 9. There hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion where things are at. We’ll see if things pick up here shortly. There hasn’t been much in terms of progress. But at the same time, I guess anything can happen, over the next couple of weeks when it comes down to crunch time when a free agent starts to look forward knowing Oct. 9 is just a couple of weeks away.”
Blues GM Doug Armstrong is playing on the desire of the 30-year-old and his ties to the St. Louis area to get a “hometown discount”, but he is operating from a place of strength since the club backed themselves up by trading for Justin Faulk and Marco Scandella last season and signing both to contract extensions.
The Leafs were interested in acquiring Pietrangelo in 2018 during the contract impasse with William Nylander and would likely be interested in him two years later if he hits the open market. LeBrun believes that the Cup winner would be willing to sign with his hometown team, but that would only be possible if GM Kyle Dubas is able to move out significant salary to make room.
The Leafs currently have $6.1 Million in available cap space, and would have to clear a lot more to re-sign RFA’s Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott and have enough room to offer a competitive deal to Pietrangelo. That likely would entail repeating the maneuver that Toronto did last season in acquiring an injured player in David Clarkson that could be placed on LTIR to open up room or by moving out another salary in Andreas Johnsson or William Nylander.
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