With NHL free agency starting on Friday morning, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is expecting to go on the market.
"We are planning for (free agency) tomorrow," he texted to the Post-Dispatch, "unless we hear from the Blues prior."
Free agency begins at 11 a.m. St. Louis time on Friday. Until then, the Blues have exclusive rights to him. After that, the gates are open and anything goes. Pietrangelo, who finished fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman this season, is one of, if not the, top commodity on the free agent market.
The two sides have spoken, but a deal remains elusive.
"We will remain in contact leading into tomorrow," he said. "We are going into tomorrow completely open-minded."
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong declined comment earlier in the day.
Pietrangelo is in the final day of a seven-year contract that paid him $45.5 million, an average annual value of $6.5 million. His new deal figures to be at something over $8 million, though the issue with the Blues has reportedly also had much to do with issues like no-movement clauses and signing bonuses.
It's unclear what the free agent market will look like since there will be no increase in the salary cap this year, making it tough for many teams to take on a large salary like Pietrangelo's. But there almost definitely will be some takers for one of the league's best defensemen, coming off one of his best seasons. Pietrangelo had a career-high 16 goals and 36 assists in the abbreviated NHL season. Had 82 games been played, he likely would have had a career high for points.