Earlier today, the St. Louis Blues announced that they had re-signed a defenceman to a multi-year contract extension. It just wasn’t the defenceman fans were probably hoping for.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 16, 2020
The Blues inked Marco Scandella to a deal worth $3,275,000 annually over four seasons. Scandella, who turned 30 years old in February, was traded twice this season, first to Montreal from Buffalo for a fourth-round pick and then from Montreal to St. Louis for a second-round pick a little over a month later. So, yeah, this contract is kind of weird.
Why do we care about any of this? It signals that Alex Pietrangelo’s days as a Blue could be finished.
Pietrangelo is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1, or whenever free agency ends up happening this year, I guess. The Blues already have nearly $79,000,000 committed to their salary cap picture for the 2020-21 season and, given the fact the ceiling probably isn’t going up any time soon, they have virtually zero wiggle room to fit in Pietrangelo.
Unless the Blues can find a way to dump some contracts (like Alex Steen’s deal worth $5,750,000 or Tyler Bozak’s deal worth $5,000,000 for one more season each) they aren’t going to be able to afford Pietrangelo.
I mean, Doug Armstrong did manage to swing deals involving Jori Lehtera for Brayden Schenn and a random collection of dead bodies for Ryan O’Reilly, so anything is possible. But, again, assuming the salary cap doesn’t rise for the next little while, it’s going to be even harder than usual to find takers for bad contracts.
Pietrangelo reaching free agency is a good thing for the Leafs. He’s the exact game-changing, top-pairing defenceman that the team needs. Unfortunately, he’s also the exact game-changing, top-pairing defenceman that pretty much every team needs.
The Leafs don’t exactly boast much salary cap flexibility right now either, so getting Pietrangelo inked to the deal he’s going to command (I would guess $9 million annually for seven seasons) would require some maneuvering. Would you move players like Morgan Rielly and Andreas Johnsson if it means being able to sign Pietrangelo? What about Mitch Marner? Unless he takes a massive Good King City, Ontario Kid Discount and signs for like $1 million annually, that’s what it’s probably going to take.