Following Friday's report that the St. Louis Blues broke off contract talks with Alex Pietrangelo and advised their captain to pursue free agency, we look at five sensible landing spots for the star defenseman.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Can a star player hailing from the Greater Toronto Area hit free agency and not be linked to the Maple Leafs? We can hear the groans from non-Leafs fans, but this list wouldn't feel complete without at least mentioning a potential Leafs pursuit of the native of King City, Ontario.
With just over $6 million in cap space, the Leafs have the least amount of flexibility of any team to crack this list. However, they may also be more desperate for an impact right-handed defenseman than any club in the league. The addition of a bona fide No. 1 blue-liner like Pietrangelo would turn Toronto's defense from a weakness to a strength.
In order to afford Pietrangelo, who will likely command at least $8 million per season, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will have to make changes throughout the lineup. He wouldn't necessarily need to move someone as important as William Nylander, but fellow forwards Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million) and Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million) would have to be traded and replaced with players making less than $1 million. He'd also have to deal goaltender Frederik Andersen ($5 million) and pursue a cheaper option.
It would really thin out Toronto's bottom-six forward group and create some uncertainty between the pipes, but Pietrangelo could be accommodated if the Leafs are that desperate. It also remains to be seen whether Dubas would want to make a significant long-term commitment to a 30-year-old after signing John Tavares two years ago.