The start of Blues training camp is less than six weeks away and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo a restricted free agent remains the team’s last unsigned player. The Blues have waited deep into the summer to re-sign many of their own RFAs but never this deep under general manager Doug Armstrong. The latest to sign previously was defenseman Erik Johnson in 2010 when he was brought into the fold on Aug. 2. That date has now passed and adding to the anxiety among fans is that despite dialogue between Armstrong and Pietrangelo’s agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports Management no agreement is imminent. A breakthrough in negotiations is always possible but with time slipping away the potential of a holdout is also plausible. The last two NHL players to miss part of the regular season — Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly — are represented by Newport. “There’s really nothing to report” Armstrong said. “My belief is that it’s better to stay quiet until we have a conclusion to it and we’re not there now. “It’s not something that I’m overly concerned about at this particularly time. We’ve got six weeks until training camp and these things get done at different times. Alex knows we want him here Alex wants to be here and at the right time things will take shape.” In an email to the Post-Dispatch Meehan confirmed “we have had discussions” but he declined to comment on the negotiations even in general terms. The logical read into the lack of an extension between Pietrangelo 23 and the Blues is that they are far apart in their expectations. It’s believed the defenseman is seeking a deal worth in the neighborhood of $7 million per season while the club appears unwilling to eclipse $6 million. Following Friday’s two-year $2.4 million extension for newcomer Magnus Paajarvi the Blues have approximately $57.3 committed against the 2013-14 salary cap leaving about $7 million under the ceiling. The team saved $2.6 million in the recent trade of David Perron for Paajarvi providing some flexibility in the Pietrangelo negotiations. At this point with both sides having established their financial parameters the key to an agreement is length. An eight-year term — the maximum allowed by the player’s current club under the NHL’s new collective-bargaining agreement — remains possible. But with the Blues not yet prepared to pay a premier price for Pietrangelo it’s likely that a short-term agreement is in the offing. “It’s just finding out is it a maximum-term contract of eight years or do both sides feel it’s better to go short?” Armstrong said. “We’re going to work hand-in-hand with Alex because it’s not a win-lose. We’re hoping to find a win-win for both sides.” The Blues have had recent success with short-term or “bridge” contracts. Perron and T.J. Oshie are among the team’s players who signed bridge deals and were eventually awarded long-term extensions. Going back to 2010 Armstrong signed Johnson the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 to a two-year $5.2 million extension out of his entry-level deal. That bridge deal might have made the difference in the Blues’ ability to trade Johnson to Colorado when he didn’t live up to their expectations.
Pietrangelo, Blues still negotiating extension
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Aug 4