Alex Pietrangelo is Vegas bound after eventually striking gold in free agency.
Pietrangelo agreed to terms with the Vegas Golden Knights on a $61.6 million, seven-year deal Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced by the team.
Pietrangelo will count $8.8 million against the salary cap through 2027, the fifth-biggest number for a defenseman in the NHL. Adding the top free agent available gives Vegas another big-money talent, but the team will also need to shed salary to fit him under the $81.5 million salary cap.
The 30-year-old leaves the St. Louis Blues after serving as captain of their 2019 Stanley Cup championship team. Pietrangelo is coming off scoring a career-high 16 goals despite the season being cut short at 70 games.
Pietrangelo has 109 goals and 341 assists for 450 points in 758 regular-season NHL games. He had a postseason-best 16 assists and averaged almost 26 minutes of ice time during the Blues' Cup run.
“He has been a stalwart player for us, for this team for a number of years,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Friday night. “A huge part of a championship-caliber team. He’s going to go down so far as one of the best Blues ever.”
Pietrangelo certainly upgrades the Golden Knights' blue line, though changes are coming to their roster. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Nate Schmidt and Alec Martinez and winger Max Pacioretty are among the trade candidates to clear cap space after Vegas already sent center Paul Stastny to Winnipeg.
St. Louis moved on from Pietrangelo, a homegrown prospect who was the No. 4 pick in the 2008 draft, before he did. The Blues signed former Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug to a $45.5 million, seven-year contract Friday, essentially ruling them out of keeping Pietrangelo after more than a year's worth of negotiations couldn't amount to an agreement.
“We couldn’t find something that made everyone comfortable,” Armstrong said. “It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time this happens in the NHL. You just wish it didn’t happen because of the respect and the desire we had to keep Alex here.”
Pietrangelo becomes the last of the top-tier free agents to find a landing spot, after Taylor Hall signed an $8 million, one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. Krug was the other, and winger Mike Hoffman is the top player left on the market after a 29-goal, 59-point season with the Florida Panthers.
Hall took the opposite approach of Pietrangelo and Krug with the cap staying flat amid pandemic-ravaged revenues.
“We knew it was going to be a unique marketplace coming into free agency,” Hall said Tuesday. “Once free agency started, I think we were made aware pretty quickly at how much things had changed and how COVID had affected a lot of different things. So, it kind of changed our decision-making from there.”
Pietrangelo had wanted to stay with St. Louis, but the signing of Krug altered his decision-making. The Toronto area native flew to Las Vegas on Saturday to meet with the Golden Knights, a visit that paved the way for this contract.