Just when you thought the Alex Pietrangelo saga couldn’t get any more spicy, another bombshell dropped that added more fuel to the fire.
Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic went on 101 ESPN and talked about how he got the sense that Pietrangelo is focused on having meetings with teams other than the St. Louis Blues heading into free agency.
Jeremy Rutherford says on ESPN101 that he believes Alex Pietrangelo is now committed to meeting with other teamshttps://t.co/wWtgLgq4T2
— J (@Account4hockey) September 18, 2020
Given that recent reports revealed that there is mutual interest between the two parties, it seems likely that the Leafs will be one of the teams that could be getting a meeting with the defenceman in a few weeks’ time.
Contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo have reportedly shown little progress to this point, with the latest updates indicating he was offered $7.7 million per season recently. Other agents around the league think Pietrangelo will be setting his asking price between $8.5 million or $9 million a year if he were to hit the open market.
This latest update bodes well for the Leafs given that they are one of Pietrangelo’s top choices should become a free agent (the others being the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers). But by no means does this confirm with 100% certainty that he will put pen to paper on October 9th. There’s still the possibility of him and his agent using the media as leverage to force the Blues into meeting his salary demands. Remember, Steven Stamkos was close to hitting the open market back in 2016 but changed his mind at the 11th hour to stay in Tampa Bay.
Additionally, Toronto has roughly $7.8 million in cap space at the time of writing this post and it won’t be easy to clear up enough space to fit in Pietrangelo’s contract. Players such as Andreas Johnsson, Alexander Kerfoot, and Travis Dermott could see themselves moved elsewhere with an emphasis on shedding salary. So if you notice one or a combination of the aforementioned guys are dealt in the coming weeks, you’ll have an idea why they were moved.
But we know the benefits of what adding Pietrangelo would mean for the Leafs blue line (and just how salivating a pairing of him and Morgan Rielly would sound). And if Kyle Dubas and company are able to pull this off, it will be just as shocking and impactful as the John Tavares signing from 2018.
If any of you are wondering if you should start to get excited at the possibility, now is a good time to begin feeling cautiously optimistic.
All salary information is from PuckPedia.com.