Blues sign Pietrangelo to seven-year deal

News-DemocratSeptember 14, 2013 

— As contract holdouts go, the one by St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo turned out to be one of the shortest.

Pietrangelo missed two days of training camp and on Friday signed a seven-year deal worth $45.5 million that will pay him an average annual salary of $6.5 million.

Why the seven-year investment in a 23-year-old defenseman?

"He's the one player that has that quality to be an elite player in our game at his position," Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said of Pietrangelo, the NHL's fourth overall pick in 2008. "I view him as a potential Norris Trophy winner, as someone that can dominate a game.

"He has the ability to play half the game, he touches every aspect of our team -- power play, penalty killing ... he has leadership qualities, he's played internationally and done very well."

Pietrangelo will be on the ice at 2 p.m. Saturday when the Blues continue training camp at the Ice Zone at the St. Louis Outlet Mall (formerly St. Louis Mills).

"Really excited to be a part of the Blues organization for the next 7 years," Pietrangelo said on Twitter. "Excited for the opportunity."

Pietrangelo had finished his three-year entry level contract and reports suggested he was seeking a deal worth $7 million a year.

Armstrong was hopeful of ending the impasse quickly and he and Pietrangelo's agent, Don Meehan, managed to get the deal done before the holdout became much of a distraction.

Meehan called Armstrong on Thursday and the two got back together again Friday and hammered out an agreement. The deal includes a no-trade clause once Pietrangelo turns 27.

"He said we have some ideas, let's talk again tomorrow and I got very excited about that," Armstrong said. "When we talked today, we pushed and pulled and prodded and both got a tad bit more uncomfortable.

"Then we both said uncle."

Earlier this summer, the Blues signed veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a five-year contract extension worth $5.4 million per season. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk signed a four-year extension worth $4.25 million per year and defenseman Jordan Leopold got a two-year deal worth $2.25 million per year.

Armstrong made a lofty comparison between Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester and a couple of former Blues all-stars.

"Our defense is set up very well moving forward," Armstrong said. "I don't want to put the pressure on or to put a bar that these guys have to reach, but to me this is a lot like (Chris) Pronger and (Al) MacInnis.

"When you have a player on the ice half the game, all the time, giving that coach the option (where) he might play them together, but if he separates them then they're on the ice half the game ... that's a nice feeling to have, and he can reunite these guys at different points of the game."

Pietrangelo's deal mirrors that of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, whose current contract is for seven years and $45.5 million.

Bouwmeester now gets a chance to keep developing the chemistry that made he and Pietrangelo a dangerous defense pair late last season.

"I don't think it was a distraction, but it's out of the way," Bouwmeester said. "It's done and move along. From his perspective, I saw him a couple weeks ago and no one wants to sit out. No one wants to do that, he wants to be here.

"The quicker you get it done and it's not a drawn-out thing, then perfect."

Since 2010, Pietrangelo is tied for sixth among NHL defensemen with 118 points. He ranked 10th with 28 goals, ninth with 90 assists and 15th with a plus-minus rating of plus-34.

He had five goals and 24 points in 47 games last season.

Blues captain David Backes wasn't sure how long the holdout would last, but he's glad it was a short one.

"He's a guy that since he's been in St. Louis he's loved the town," Backes said. "He's set some roots here, he's got a girlfriend from here. You knew that he was going to be here long-term, you just didn't know how much the business side was going to get in the way.

"In the end there's a lot of happy people on both sides that he'll be in camp. He's missed 2 1/2 days, but that can be made up pretty quick. After he takes a little bit of razzing from the guys for not being here, hell be right back in the group and together with us like he should be."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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