Pietrangelo and Blues using the System
The word leverage is being tossed around rather loosely nowadays with the contract dispute between the Blues and prized D-man Alex Pietrangelo.
To be fair let’s not act as if Pietrangelo has no leverage. Of course he does, he’s the Blues best player and he’s using his leverage as I write. Not playing is a big part of his leverage.
GM Doug Armstrong wants his team to carry more swag this season and walk off the bus like they expect to win. In other words don’t be afraid to act like you’re good. I do know this, the Blues are a lot scarier to the opposition when #27 is on the bus.
The team has Stanley Cup aspirations and that task becomes significantly more difficult without Pietrangelo. Both he and the team know this.
The “bridge deal” has been tossed around as a possibility if a long-term agreement can’t be reached. The Blues have done several of these over the years but in this case if I’m the Blues I’d stay as far away from a two-year deal as I can. At the end of a bridge deal Pietrangelo would have arbitration rights and you can certainly make the case he’s a $7-$8 million player in an arb case. He would likely choose a two-year award which then walks him right up to free agency. One can only assume Pietrangelo’s camp would entertain going in this direction.
If Pietrangelo wants $7 million on a term deal today we can only imagine what that price tag will look like when he’s ready to become an unrestricted free agent.
It won’t take $7 million to sign him to a two-year deal.
The reality is both sides have the right to use the system and that’s exactly what we’re seeing. If the Blues want to lock Pietrangelo up for seven years then you’re going to have to pay to take away unrestricted free agent years, something Doug Armstrong is aware of. As the cap goes up, so does Pietrangelo’s value.
As much as the Drew Doughty contract is being thrown around as a comp, that deal is already two years old. Hard to say that deal didn't help both sides...Kings won the Cup and GM Dean Lombardi got a contract extension.
We all know Pietrangelo wants to be in camp especially after going through a shortened season last year with no pre-season. Again he’s using his leverage by not showing up.
I can buy the fact the Blues have more leverage. Pietrangelo has few options other than staying home or taking his game to Europe. If the Blues were to struggle out of the gate that only helps Pietrangelo’s camp.
The Blues deserve some credit for preparing for this day. By re-signing Jordan Leopold and bringing in Ryan Whitney they’ve afforded themselves the opportunity to get by without Pietrangelo for a short time if necessary. They also have Jay Bouwmeester who can easily eat minutes not to mention Kevin Shattenkirk who in my opinion was undervalued last year down the stretch.
I will say this, if they’re forced to sign Whitney then either he or Ian Cole would need to pass through waivers to go down to the minors upon Pietrangelo’s return. You’d hate to lose an asset for nothing.
Teams Standing Their Ground…
Just by looking at some of the recent lengthy contract disputes, we’re not seeing teams cave in. Look at Montreal last off-season with P.K. Subban, Colorado and Ryan O’Reilly, and most recently with Toronto and Nazem Kadri.
In the case of O’Reilly, Calgary bailed him out by signing the player to an offersheet.
Agents will tell you Armstrong can be a stubborn negotiator and the idea that he’s going to be the first GM over the last several months to cave is unrealistic. No one has folded on the team side.
Then again Don Meehan and his camp are stuck on the number they believe Pietrangelo is worth and I don’t see them budging anytime soon. At least not before the regular season begins.
More to come,
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