The question was asked even more after the Blues signed Sammy Blais to a 2-year contract extension worth an average of $1.5 million per season on Wednesday. It was asked even more after the Blues signed Marco Scandella to a four-year contract extension worth $3.275 million per year.
With the season being on hold, it hasn’t been determined whether free agency will start on July 1 as usual. But whenever free agency does happen, the Blues have a lot to worry about.
Alex Pietrangelo and Other Blues Free Agents
Besides Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues will also have to make decisions on whether or not they want to re-sign unrestricted free agents Troy Brouwer and Jay Bouwmeester and restricted free agents Jacob de la Rose, Mackenzie MacEachern and Vince Dunn, whose contracts are all up after this season.
The first thing to keep in mind is that Bouwmeester not be healthy enough to play. The Blues may not have to worry about finding money to pay him. Dunn will be a restricted free agent, meaning that the Blues at least have the right to match any offer he gets from any other team.
Pietrangelo is an unrestricted free agent so the Blues don’t get to match any offer he gets. Blues fans are hopeful that because he just led the team to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history that he will do anything it takes to continue playing in St. Louis, including taking a pay cut. Is it necessary to expect him to take a pay cut?
Blues’ Cap Situation
In March, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the salary cap is expected to increase from $81.5 million to between $84 million and $88.2 million next season. If the salary cap goes up to $88.2 million, that is a $6.7 million difference from this season. What the salary cap actually winds up being could be the difference in the Blues re-signing Alex Pietrangelo and not.
The Blues haven’t signed him yet and are taking care of lower priority and cheaper players. So it seems that the Blues aren’t sure they will be able to afford Pietrangelo. That likely has to do with the Blues not knowing what the salary cap will be next season yet.
This season, Pietrangelo is making $7.5 million (with a $6.5 million cap hit). It’s not unrealistic to say he deserves a raise. If the Blues can’t give it to him, someone else likely will be able to.
Right now, with Vladimir Tarasenko and Bouwmeester on long-term injured reserve, the Blues have just over $20,000 in cap space. Next season, Tarasenko will make $5.5 million, $4 million less than he has made this season. The Blues would be able to use that money to sign Pietrangelo and give him a small raise, as well as get Dunn locked down.
The Faulk Situation
Except, the extension the Blues gave Justin Faulk kicks in next season and he will go from making a little over $5 million (with only a $4.15 million cap hit) to $9 million. It seemed when the Blues extended Faulk that he got this much because he would be the replacement for Alex Pietrangelo. Most fans don’t want Pietrangelo to be replaced. However, they seemed excited about what Faulk would bring to the table as a member of the Blues. Unfortunately, he hasn’t lived up to what Blues fans thought he could do.
In his best season for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014-15, Faulk hit 49 points in 82 games. This season, of course not a full season, he only has 16. He seemed to be fitting in much better after the All-Star break. Still, $9 million seems insane for a defenseman who has less than half the points Pietrangelo (36). Not only that he isn’t trusted to spend as much time on the power play as Pietrangelo. Faulk has certainly improved since his first game with the Blues, but he isn’t ready to fill in Pietrbngelo’s shoes.
Pietrangelo, if the Blues were to re-sign him, certainly deserves more than what Faulk’s making. Unless trades or a change in the salary cap happen, it doesn’t look like the Blues can afford it.
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