In just his second full season in the NHL Alex Pietrangelo was among the best D-men in the league. From start to finish Pietrangelo proved why so many scouts and Executives touted him as a future All-Star entering his draft year in 2008.
The Blues selected him fourth overall knowing he still needed some seasoning before being ready to make his mark in the NHL.
Two years in a row the team returned him to Niagara in the OHL after playing a handful of games to begin the year. Some began to wonder if the bar had been set too high for Pietrangelo. Afterall other D-men taken in the same draft were already impact players with their NHL teams.
One of those included Drew Doughty who was taken two spots ahead of Pietrangelo. Doughty had no problem adjusting to the NHL pace and even landed on Canada’s Gold-medal Olympic team in 2010.
It should be fun watching these two face one another over the next few weeks.
The 2008 NHL draft may go down as the best ever for NHL D-men. It included the like of Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Pietrangelo, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Erik Karlsson, Jake Gardiner, Luca Sbisa, Michael Del Zotto,and John Carlson just to name a few.
There’s a chance Pietrangelo will be considered the best of the bunch when it’s all said and done. He has some stiff competition though, what an amazing class. Doughty has already been a Norris finalist, Karlsson could win the Norris this year, and Myers took home the Calder trophy a few years back. John Carlson scored the game winner to secure Team USA a Gold-medal in the 2009 World Junior Championships.
Pietrangelo’s chance for a Norris trophy will have to wait as sources confirm he will not be named a finalist for the award later today. Nashville’s Shea Weber, Boston’s Zdeno Chara, and Karlsson are likely to be named the top three candidates. You can be sure Pietrangelo earned some votes.
He finished the season 5th in points with 51, 6th in goals, 6th in assists, 4th in power play points, 8th in takeaways, top 20 in ice time with 24:43 per game including 3:12 of PK time, top 10 in shots on goal with 202, and first in shifts.
He took on an awesome responsibility defensively matching up against opposing teams best players every single night. A sign of a great D-man is one who can play top even strength minutes as well as first unit PP and PK.
As good as he is offensively, Pietrangelo may be even better in his own end. He has tremendous patience and is as poised under pressure as you’ll find. He has a great stick and moves the puck up ice as well as any D-man in the league. There’s something to be said for being the best D-man on the top defensive team in the NHL.
He has unbelievable instincts and hockey sense, has world class vision, and can stick handle his way out of traffic.
I don’t scream and yell just because he didn’t crack the top three. He turned 22 years-old this season and his time will come. It’s hard to argue with the three players who are nominated as they all had deserving seasons. Sometimes it takes playing in the playoffs to get the recognition you deserve. Guys like Weber and Chara have been great for a long time in this league and they’re as good as any D-man going right now. We all know this is a reputation award.
Karlsson put together one of the best offensive seasons from a D-man as we’ve seen. He doesn’t play in his own end nearly as well as Pietrangelo but he had an incredible year. It’s hard to argue with the numbers he put up.
The scary thing is Karlsson will only get better. Some will try and pick apart his game defensively but most would take him on their team. He is what he is, he’s got ridiculous talent and you have to appreciate the season he had.
You have to try really hard to criticize Karlsson who was a steal at 15th overall in 2008. The kid’s a great player. Playing in a Canadian market doesn’t hurt his cause either.
Success in the playoffs will go a long way in Peitrangelo getting more respect.
More to come,