Vegas Golden Knights 2020 Free Agency: The hunt for the White Whale continues

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) shoots during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) shoots during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The wait goes on for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Free Agency opened on Friday with the real hope that the Vegas Golden Knights would claim that final piece in a Stanley Cup puzzle by signing stud defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a blockbuster contract.

However, like any good White Whale, Pietrangelo proved elusive with the now former St. Louis Blues Captain opting to take his time and evaluate all of his options before making a decision.

More from Vegas Hockey Knight

That has now stretched into Day Two of Free Agency with Pietrangelo on a visit to Vegas as we speak, and we’ll see if anything unfolds later today although former Toronto Maple Leafs player Carlo Colaiacovo has reported that there will be no decision today, a sentiment echoed by Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest.

We’ll delve into the whole Pietrangelo situation shortly but, for now, let’s recap what happened on Day One of Free Agency for the Golden Knights…

Fizzled Out

It all started with so much promise for the Vegas Golden Knights, who officially got Free Agency started by dealing veteran centre Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a 2022 Fourth-Round pick.

More importantly, however, the move cleared some cap space for the Golden Knights and gave them the flexibility to go and aggressively pursue Alex Pietrangelo given that teams can go over the salary cap by 10 percent during the off-season.

However, a wild day never quite materialized and it proved to be a bit of a long slog for the Golden Knights, who saw UFA defenseman Jon Merrill sign for the Detroit Red Wings and RFA forward Nick Cousins sign a two-year deal with the Nashville Predators.

Elite penalty killer Tomas Nosek did return to Sin City on a one-year, $1,250,000 contract, although veteran defenseman and heartbeat of the franchise Deryk Engelland was told he wouldn’t be coming back to the Knights in a playing role.

Then, with the hours ticking by, things began to heat up and get interesting again as the Toronto Maple Leafs signed top-four defenseman T.J. Brodie to a four-year deal with a $5 million AAV, seemingly taking themselves out of the Pietrangelo stakes.

But the biggest twist was yet to come as the Blues all but waved the white flag when it came to keeping their Captain by stunning everyone in signing former Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $6.25 million.

It was a shocking move and one that took the second best defenseman off the market in Krug, who should be a perfect fit for the Blues given his offensive upside and high compete level.

Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues.
Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues is congratulated at the bench after scoring a goal. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

What’s Next?

Day Two has thrown some interesting nuggets out there already.

As already mentioned, Alex Pietrangelo is currently in Vegas for an official team visit and, according to Andy Strickland, this is the defenseman’s only planned visit at the moment.

That does imply that the Golden Knights are on the brink of getting their man and, if it is indeed that close, we could hear something tonight if not tomorrow.

We do know that the Boston Bruins are out with B’s General Manager Don Sweeney revealing that he’s had no contact with Pietrangelo’s camp, and it seems that the Bruins are more focussed on trying to sign free agent star Taylor Hall to a short-term deal, which would be a good fit for both parties.

One other interesting move that has happened recently is the Edmonton Oilers signing offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie to a one-year, $3.75 million prove it deal. Barrie would have been a perfect Plan B for the Golden Knights if they failed to sign Pietrangelo, so it really is going to be all or nothing.

There was some talk that the St. Louis Blues would try to get something done if Pietrangelo expressed a wish to return to the team that drafted him but, given their cap situation, that would require the level of high-jinx sorcery that even Harry Potter would be jealous of.

So, the question now is if, or when, Alex Pietrangelo signs with the Vegas Golden Knights, what happens next?

Well, as already mentioned, shedding Paul Stastny’s $6.5 million cap hit gave the front office a boatload of flexibility given that teams can go over the cap by 10 percent during the off-season.

However, given that the salary cap is flat at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and perhaps beyond, there is still work to be done for the Golden Knights if they get their glittering prize in Free Agency.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27).
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) practices before the game. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Pietrangelo is expected to get a seven-year deal with an AAV of somewhere in the region of $8.5 million, so that would require some serious number crunching from the front office in order to get cap compliant in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt and Alec Martinez are all being shopped in trade talks and expect those discussions to heat up as soon as Pietrangelo puts pen to paper in Vegas.

While the asking price might be high, there will be at least one team willing to take on Fleury and his AAV of $7 million for the next two years given that he can still be an elite goalie, while clearing Schmidt’s salary of $5,950,000 would certainly help too.

There’s also a plethora of depth options still available in Free Agency, including on the goalie market, but don’t expect the Golden Knights to do anything too substantial until the Alex Pietrangelo situation is resolved.

Next. Golden Knights add depth with Jurco. dark

It seems like we are getting closer to that happening and it could be just a matter of time until the Vegas Golden Knights win Free Agency and move a step closer to their dream of lifting the Stanley Cup by landing one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League.