In today’s Leafs Links, we have the latest on the Alex Pietrangelo contract negotiations in St. Louis and a Darren Dreger report on which teams could be on Pietrangelo’s shortlist if he makes it to unrestricted free agency on October 9th.
Darren Pang on the latest on Alex Pietrangelo (TSN1050)
On Leafs Lunch, long-time Blues commentator Darren Pang provided his latest feel for the Alex Pietrangelo negotiations with St. Louis management/ownership.
This is as discreet of a negotiation as I have seen in a while. Newport Management is tight to their vests. We had no word during the year whether or not there was conversation. I talked to Alex many times during the year about it, and he’d look at me and go pretty quiet. Everyone assumes he would take a hometown discount because his wife is from there and he’s got nieces and the three kids and a couple of homes there — one he uses as an investment property, and I think he’s got one in King City as well. There are a lot of variables here.
What I have found out is that on the business side, Alex Pietrangelo is even-keeled. He takes the emotion out of it. He is a businessman in this. He wants to stay in St. Louis. I am just not sure if the dollar figures and the economy works for him. We’ve got a whole new world here.
Among the several owners of the St. Louis Blues, under the guidance of Tom Stillman — who is kind of the steward of the whole ownership group — there are some that are excelling during this Covid time and there are some that are not excelling during this time that are major owners of the team. With the cap flattening and that part of it, I don’t know if it works. I don’t know if there is a number they can come up with.
Pang on Pietrangelo’s performance this past season:
That was his best season for me, from start to finish… I was surprised he didn’t get more votes for the Norris. It is a tough cookie to crack — I get that — but boy, he had a heck of a year. He had 16 goals this year coming on the back of winning a Stanley Cup with a short offseason. I thought he was remarkable.
He is a great person. He is accountable on the defensive side of it. His PK minutes… I think what makes him so valuable is that he is also handed 5v5 time against the other team’s best players, and then he is chipping in on offensive opportunities as well. Big fan of Alex Pietrangelo all around.
Dreger: Leafs, Golden Knights could be high on Pietrangelo’s shortlist (TSN1050)
On Leafs Lunch on Tuesday, Darren Dreger suggested the Leafs and Golden Knights could be among the teams high on Alex Pietrangelo’s shortlist of desirable destinations if he tests UFA, but he doesn’t necessarily see the fit cap-wise with the Leafs.
Assuming the Big Four are all off-limits, the Leafs would likely be looking at moving out pieces like Andreas Johnsson and Alex Kerfoot in order to accommodate a 30-year-old Pietrangelo at the terms reported — and even then, it would be tight to fill out the depth of the roster, possibly also necessitating some penny-pinching in net via a potential Frederik Andersen move.
I don’t think that is of any concern to Alex Pietrangelo. Going into the open market, I think Toronto would be very high on his list. I think the Vegas Golden Knights would be high on his list. And that list would be relatively short.
I also think… Why should he have to take a hometown discount, either in St. Louis or Toronto? And what is that number then? Can the Toronto Maple Leafs afford another $9+ million player, even though he is a world-class defenseman? I don’t think they can. Kyle Dubas and the Leafs may have a different version of that approach. Especially with the cap at $81.5 million, maybe the following year, and who knows how long the cap is going to stay lower than the cap teams would want it to be?
Financially, even though the player would make the Toronto Maple Leafs stronger — no question about that — can they afford another significant financial piece like this? That is clearly what the Maple Leafs brass would have to wrestle with.
There is also a back-and-forth that is off and on with negotiations. It’s not like St. Louis wants to drive this guy to an airport and get rid of him. He is their captain. They’d very much like to keep him. But if they’ve got to invest upward of $9 million to keep Pietrangelo in St. Louis, either way, it is coming at the expense of another player or players.
The interest in Pietrangelo would be there from Toronto’s perspective, but interest is different than reality.
Dreger on what kind of contract offers have been made to Pietrangelo by Blues management:
I believe St. Louis is already at eight or north of eight on an average annual salary. Now, what is the term? Is it eight years to keep him in St. Louis, where you can throw in that extra year? Or is it seven? I don’t know. I know in the last couple of weeks, there has been more dialogue than there was prior to that. But the ball is clearly in the court of Doug Armstrong and the St. Louis Blues.
Maybe Army makes it interesting and he comes back and he is at $8.5 million. Is 8.5 on an eight-year term enough to keep your family healthy and happy in St. Louis for the rest of your career?
Dreger on whether the Leafs would be a potential fit for Marc-Andre Fleury:
I doubt it. I haven’t talked to Dubas about it specifically, so I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Aside from the resume with Marc-Andre Fleury — which we all know is highly decorated — you have to look into the future, and you have to look at the position. I’m don’t know that Frederik Andersen isn’t [the future].
… [The media] hasn’t made this stuff up. The Toronto Maple Leafs — play the game of semantics — are maybe not shopping Freddy, but they are certainly willing to consider what they perceive to be an upgrade in the position of goal. Is that Fleury because of his resume or is that Matt Murray because of his resume and he’s younger and you’ve got a relationship with him? I am not sure. But I am sure of the level of respect the Leafs organization has for Frederik Andersen. This isn’t simply Toronto trying to unload Freddy.
If there is a deal to be made for Frederik Andersen, it has to be a good hockey deal — a deal that helps them out and gives them the freedom to take a harder look at Murray or someone else.
Justin Bourne on Wayne Simmonds interest, Leafs’ role players (Sportsnet 590)
Justin Bourne weighed in with his thoughts on the possible fit for Wayne Simmonds in Toronto on Leafs Hour with Ben Ennis and JD Bunkis.
Is there anything more insane than Wayne Simmonds at the trade deadline going to Buffalo? Buffalo traded for him for a fifth-round pick. The Toronto Maple Leafs — he was exactly what they needed, essentially, and they didn’t want to give up that pick, and that’s fine.
The Leafs of old used to go out and get guys who are name guys who used to be good. I can’t speak to Simmonds’ value lately, but he definitely isn’t the guy he once was. I would be worried about getting a guy whose name is very appealing and history is very appealing but isn’t able to do what you think you are getting when you acquire him.
Bourne on the Leafs’ strategy for addressing depth roles:
Along the way here, the plan has been — well, we are going to develop someone who has no acquisition cost and is at the league minimum. “Here comes Jeremy Bracco!” But I feel like that plan has changed. The Leafs’ strategy has changed. I no longer think the old plan of picking up Denis Malgin or Nic Petan is going to be what happens here.
Kevin Papetti’s 2020 NHL Draft Rankings: Players 1-31 (MLHS)
MLHS’ Kevin Papetti has released his first-round draft rankings, with 32-62 to follow in a few days. The Leafs are set to draft 15th overall in the first round unless something develops on the trade front involving the pick between now and October 6th.
#12: Jake Sanderson is a smooth-skating defenseman who excels at defending in transition. It’s tough to beat him one-on-one. Even if you do fool him in the neutral zone, he’s often fast enough to recover effectively. He’s also quite strong, so it’s easy to project him as a high-end shutdown defender at the NHL level. He’ll win battles in front of the net, out-muscle his opponents in the corners, and log major minutes on the penalty kill.