Hockey Junkie

Your Hockey Fix

Grades for every big NHL free-agent signing: Pros, cons of Pietrangelo blockbuster

Grades for every big NHL free-agent signing: Pros, cons of Pietrangelo blockbuster

NHL free agency for 2020 is underway!

For each key signing, Emily Kaplan, Chris Peters and Greg Wyshynski will be assessing the player’s fit with his new team, weighing whether the terms of the contract make sense and serving up an overall grade.

We’ll be grading the most notable offseason signings below, so come back for updates as deals are completed throughout the fall.

Free agency: Tracker | Preview | Top 60

Trades: Grading every big deal

Draft recap: Every pick | Grades | Takeaways

Terms: Seven years, $8.8 million in average annual value

Where does he fit? The Golden Knights have always coveted an elite, top-pairing defenseman. The first significant player the expansion franchise ever chased was Erik Karlsson, before the Ottawa Senators traded him to the San Jose Sharks. Now, as they enter their fourth season of existence, the Knights have landed an elite defender in Alex Pietrangelo.

Fourth in the Norris Trophy voting, the 30-year-old defenseman had 52 points in 70 games last season, the highest points-per-game rate (0.74) of his career. He’s played 758 games over 12 seasons, and 92 more in the playoffs, all with the St. Louis Blues. Per Evolving Hockey, Pietrangelo is fifth among defensemen in goals scored above average (37.8) and wins above replacement (7) over the last three seasons.

His best play comes at 5-on-5. His expertise is offense, but he’s a solid and smart defender. He had an expected goals percentage of 52.4% last season; from 2017-2020, it was 52.1%. The Blues had an 8.62 shooting percentage and a 92.01 team save percentage while Pietrangelo was on the ice over the last three seasons. He drives play, controls possession, creates turnovers and helps his team suppress shots on goal. He’s a plus-5 in penalties drawn vs. taken at 5-on-5 during the last three seasons.

Pietrangelo plays in all situations, averaging 1:50 per game on the penalty kill and leading the Blues in power-play ice time at 3:06 per game this past season. He’s a solid second-tier power-play quarterback in the NHL, averaging 4.6 points per 60 minutes of power-play time in the last three seasons. But keep in mind that the 2019-20 season was one of the first when he played significant top-unit numbers in recent years.

Draft grades » | Every pick, analysis »
• Big takeaways » | Top 100 rankings »
• Round 1 best picks » | Round 1 recap »
More analysis from the 2020 draft »

He’s a solid citizen and a captain that really grew into the role with St. Louis. The Knights are filled with great skaters that have never lifted the Stanley Cup. Pietrangelo was the first one to ever do it wearing a Blues jersey.

For Pietrangelo, the fit with Vegas seemed inevitable after the Blues decided they weren’t going to capitulate to his contract demands. St. Louis actually offered more money ($64 million) and term (eight years) than what Pietrangelo landed with Vegas, although the state tax differences and cost of living between the two markets is tangible. What the Blues wouldn’t offer was signing bonus money near the end of the deal, which would have been buyout-protected; nor would they offer a full no-movement clause, which the Knights handed him for the duration of the contract.

He plays the right side, which was an area where the Knights could use an upgrade. Of course, moving a player in with a $8.8 million cap hit means moving a player or players out.

Published at Tue, 13 Oct 2020 02:16:17 +0000