NHL Free Agency 2020: Latest Buzz on Alex Pietrangelo, Offseason Market

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIApril 19, 2020

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11:  Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues is congratulated at the bench after scoring a goal during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on March 11, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

For most of his NHL career, Alex Pietrangelo has had stability. He's spent all 12 of his seasons in the league with the St. Louis Blues, becoming captain in 2016 and helping them to win their first Stanley Cup in 2019.

Things may not be as certain for Pietrangelo this offseason, as the 30-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent. And the coronavirus pandemic could affect his contract negotiations, either with the Blues or a different team.

According to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, Pietrangelo may have to sign a short-term deal this offseason if the NHL's salary cap "goes down significantly." That means he might have to wait to sign a longer contract in a few offseasons "when cap goes up," per Rutherford.

If the salary cap ends up affecting St. Louis to the point it can't afford to bring back Pietrangelo, there should be plenty of suitors for the two-time All-Star.

Pietrangelo is a reliable veteran, as he's played in at least 70 games in the past nine non-lockout seasons. This year, he was on pace to set a career high in points, as he had 16 goals and 36 assists in 70 games. He needs only two more points to match the total of 54 he recorded in 2017-18, and his goals total already represents his all-time best effort.

On Thursday, the Blues signed defenseman Marco Scandella to a four-year, $13.1 million extension to prevent the 30-year-old from hitting free agency this offseason. Rutherford recently wrote that he doesn't think that deal will necessarily prevent St. Louis from also bringing back Pietrangelo, but he said a "long-term extension in the range of $9 million per year" may no longer be possible.

"The bottom line is I don't think [general manager Doug] Armstrong did anything Thursday to jeopardize Pietrangelo's potential return," Rutherford wrote.

Pietrangelo and the Blues wouldn't be the only ones affected if the NHL's salary cup doesn't go up or potentially even goes down, for the 2020-21 season.

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, NHL teams have been running scenarios based on the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season or increasing by only $1 million. If that happens, there may not be a big market for unrestricted free agents, an agent told Seravalli.

"It's the bottom feeders that will have the most money to spend, but they usually aren't attractive to top free agents, and their owners don't like to spend dumb money anyway," an agent told Seravalli. "How many teams are going to be able to give you what you want? So many players are kicking themselves, wishing they had signed last year."

With so much uncertainty in the NHL, there's sure to be more buzz regarding the salary cap and its impact on free agents in the weeks to come.