There has been plenty of worry amongst St. Louis Blues fans over the lack of news regarding their star player Alex Pietrangelo and his next contract; a contract that many believe will make him the highest paid Blues skater on the roster.
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) June 29, 2013
After a disappointing 2012-2013 campaign in which Pietrangelo ranked 21st among all NHL defensemen in points, many Blues fans are wondering if Pietrangelo should be paid like a top 5 defenseman.
Although his play seemingly dropped a bit from previous years, it’s important to note that he was well within his average points per game. In ’10-11 Pietrangelo averaged .544 points per game, in ’11-12 he averaged .63 points per game and last season he averaged .51 points per game.
That may not be the most important statistic to be aware of though. Before acquiring Jay Bouwmeester via trade, Pietrangelo averaged 4 more minutes of ice-time (25:07) than the next highest Blues skater Kevin Shattenkirk (21:18). Thus, Pietrangelo’s importance to the Blues is quite clear.
While offer sheets are always a possibility, especially for players of Pietrangelo’s caliber, Armstrong has stated the Blues are “very content with where we are with the NHL salary cap” (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and he isn’t afraid to match any offer sheet thrown at his numerous restricted free agents.
“We’re going to want it the way we think is proper for the St. Louis Blues. If there’s an offer sheet there, we’re very content with where we are with the NHL salary cap, we’re going to be able to match any offer and we will. These are core players that we’re not going to let go.” -St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Offer sheets are difficult to predict. That being said, what the Blues should offer Pietrangelo in terms of the annual average value of a contract is quite predictable by examining some comparable cap hits and statistics (2011-2013) of other top-tier NHL defensemen with similar styles of play as Pietrangelo: St. Louis Blues Jay Bouwmeester, Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty and the Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson.
[table id=107 /]
From this table, it’s pretty obvious that Erik Karlsson is an offensive freak of nature and may have deserved a larger AAV than what he received. However, in comparing Karlsson’s game to that of Pietrangelo’s, Petro is certainly more defensively responsible so it’s not entirely outrageous to think Pietrangelo can command more than $6.5 million per season.
That being said, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty may be a better player to compare to Pietrangelo as their games are nearly identical in style: both are above-average offensive threats while possessing the ability to play a sound defensive game; although Doughty may be more established on the defensive side.
Before looking at these statistical comparisons, I had Pietrangelo pegged at making anywhere from $6-6.5 million per season. Now, it seems Pietrangelo rightfully deserves and will most likely receive an annual average value of anywhere between $6.5-7.25 million.