Alex Pietrangelo is the missing piece for the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was another disappointing year for the Vegas Golden Knights who fell short of their ultimate goal after being eliminated in the Western Conference Final in five games by the Dallas Stars.
As a result, there are some that believe the Golden Knights will once again go big-game hunting in order to push this team over the top.
And Pietrangelo could be that final, missing piece.
We went in-depth here on why the stud defenseman would be the perfect fit for the Golden Knights, and nothing has changed.
Well, one thing has actually changed and thats the fact that it is rapidly becoming reality Pietrangelo will hit Free Agency on Friday.
Talks have reportedly broken down between the player and the St. Louis Blues and, while there is always time for things to be salvaged, it does appear likely that another star will be available on the open market.
And, according to reports, Pietrangelo would prefer a move to either the Golden Knights or the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both teams will also be very interested in the 30-year-old, as will a lot of other franchises, and we are going to briefly explain why Pietrangelo would be the perfect fit for the Golden Knights before delving into how a deal could be struck.
Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues reacts to his power play goal. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Weve covered it before but Alex Pietrangelo would be the absolute horse on the backend that the Golden Knights crave.
He would help ease the load on Shea Theodore and the duo would lead this defense for the foreseeable future.
It is also important to note that Pietrangelo is a right-shot, an area in which the Golden Knights are incredibly short in on the blueline so thats another box ticked.
Pietrangelo knows how to win having won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, playing a key role in that success with 19 points (3 G, 16 A) while averaging 25:45 minutes of ice time per game.
He put up 52 points (16 G, 36 A) in 70 games during the 2019-20 regular season while he boasts 450 points (109 G, 341 A) in 758 career NHL games.
Not only that but Pietrangelo is incredibly durable, he can play key roles on both the power play and the penalty kill and hes highly effective in both zones.
He was third among all defensemen in the NHL with a 18.2 goals above replacement and 3.2 wins above replacement, and the offense he can produce will certainly help a team that struggled to score for much of the postseason.
With a big body, a long reach and a natural leader, Pietrangelo has all the intangibles you would want in a franchise defenseman and he would provide a lethal one-two punch alongside Theodore.
Plus, given his history and how he plays the game, it is feasible to think that Pietrangelo could play at a high level late into his 30s which would make a long-term deal worthwhile.
Pietrangelo also knows how to win which is a key ingredient and he would truly be the final piece for a team that is on the cusp of winning a championship.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) looks on. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The first response many people might have to this article is how on Gods Green Earth could the Golden Knights pull this off given their salary cap constraints?
Firstly, theres a reason certain people in the front office get paid the big bucks and the Knights will have cap scientists conjuring up different ways to work around the flat cap of $81. 5 million for the 2020-21 season.
Of course, that doesnt change the fact that the Golden Knights are currently $59,876 over the salary cap in the wake of signing goalie Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25 million extension with five pending free agents still to deal with.
In an ideal world the Knights would love to keep two of those in RFAs Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins, and a decision will have to be made on both this week.
That leaves Vegas with one option only and that is to move some pieces in order to create the cap space they would need in order to make a big splash in Free Agency.
We already know that face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury is being shopped, and it is likely a third team will be involved so that the Knights dont have to eat any salary.
It is also possible that the Golden Knights could look to shop Paul Stastny who has one year left with a $6,500,000 cap hit, while reports out there suggest that forward Jonathan Marchessault and defenseman Nate Schmidt could also be shopped.
If the front office can generate the cap space they need then another potential, intriguing option is a sign-and-trade, something we explored here.
The Blues could sign Pietrangelo to an eight-year extension and then trade him to Vegas for an asset, therefore allowing the Golden Knights to bring down the AAV of the deal, with Pietrangelo likely to command anywhere between $9-$11 million per year.
That option would make it easier from a cap perspective for the Knights, although they would have to part with a Draft pick and maybe a prospect.
Thats the price you pay for an established star, however.
Overall, where theres a will theres a way and there is a pathway there for the Vegas Golden Knights to be able to put the rest of the NHL on notice by signing Alex Pietrangelo in free agency.
And they should because he could be the piece that pushes this franchise over the top in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
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