More On Alex Pietrangelo s Pending Free Agency -

More On Alex Pietrangelo s Pending Free Agency -
When that talks had broken off between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo , speculation exploded all over the hockey world trying to figure out where the star defenseman will play next season. Almost every team in the league could use a Norris-level right-handed defenseman who can play in all situations, but the list that could actually fit him into their salary cap structure doesn’t appear to be nearly as high.

That won’t stop fans from trying to find a way ( as evidenced by CapFriendly’s Toronto Maple Leafs page getting a surge of traffic) and it won’t stop discussion over what Pietrangelo’s presence would mean to a team looking to change their defensive identity. Toronto, a team that has struggled for ages on the defensive side of the puck, also happens to be where Pietrangelo grew up and is getting plenty of press as a potential destination. Today,  spoke with Carlo Colaiacovo on TSN radio and gave his thoughts on whether playing in Toronto could excite Pietrangelo:

I think it one-hundred percent does. 

You talk about pulling at the heart strings and the idea of playing there? I think that one-hundred percent exists. Now whether or not they can meet his demands–and again, Toronto is going to be competing with other teams to get his services.

You look at the signing bonus Toronto has paid at some of these other guys including Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews . The Blues don’t need to pay that kind of signing bonus money. When we talk about bonus money, he’s not looking for that level of bonus money from a team like St. Louis. But from a team like Toronto? Knowing they can afford to pay that? They’re going to have to pay bonus money in that range.

The entire interview is quite fascinating, given it takes place between someone who covers the Blues closely and someone who is close with Pietrangelo (Colaiacovo also played in St. Louis and was in his wedding party). Still, even with a lot of things pointing to the Maple Leafs entering the race for the pending free agent, it will be a difficult task for them to pull off.

Toronto isn’t in quite as dire of a cap situation as some seem to think, with more than $6MM in space and only two important restricted free agents to sign, but that doesn’t mean adding Pietrangelo is even a good idea. The team already has so much money tied up in the very top-end of their roster that adding another $8MM+ cap hit (the very low-end of what he’s expected to receive on his next deal) could potentially weaken their depth even further.

against moving one of the team’s other top players in his latest column and Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has never indicated a willingness to listen on names like Mitch Marner or Morgan Rielly . More likely, a move to land Pietrangelo would come at the expense of some names lower in the lineup like Andreas Johnsson or Alexander Kerfoot .

Past the Maple Leafs, there will be several other teams picking up the phone to contact Pietrangelo and Newport Sports on October 9th. In fact, Strickland suggested today that there actually may be some excitement from the defenseman to see what is out there for him.

I don’t think it truly comes down to the money. It does come down to how the deal is structured. At the end of the day I truly believe that Alex Pietrangelo, the idea of going elsewhere, of entering free agency, I think that excites him. I think he is interested in seeing what else is out there.

There is now less than three weeks until Pietrangelo and the rest of the class can start talking to new teams, when free agency opens on October 9.
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