The Vegas Golden Knights have secured their newest big catch: Alex Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights won the bidding for the veteran defenseman, who was largely viewed as the the prize of this year's free agency class, by offering him a seven-year contract worth $61.6 million -- an average annual value of $8.8 million.
The deal makes Pietrangelo, 30, the fifth-highest-paid defenseman in the NHL. He comes from St. Louis, where he spent the first 12 years of his career after being drafted fourth overall by the Blues in 2008. Since then, Pietrangelo has established himself as one of the best and most respected defensemen in the league, earning three All-Star nominations and finishing top-five in Norris voting three times -- including last season.
He also took over as captain of the Blues in 2016 and was the first player to hoist the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 2019.
Pietrangelo has been linked to Vegas since the start of free agency (the market opened last Friday) but word of the signing still came as somewhat of a surprise thanks to the magnitude of the deal -- it's the biggest contract handed out in a down market this offseason -- and because the Golden Knights are in a tight spot against the salary cap.
In fact, the signing put Vegas over its offseason cap limit, which meant it needed to quickly make a corresponding move in order to free up cap room before the league can approve the signing and make it official.
According to @CapFriendly's estimates, the Golden Knights would need to clear roughly $2.1 million in space before making the Pietrangelo contract official, in order to stay cap compliant.— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) October 13, 2020
That means a trade is likely coming.
After agreeing with Pietrangelo, Vegas quickly agreed to trade newly expendable defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022. Schmidt, 29, is signed at a $5.95 million cap hit through 2025. The Golden Knights had little leverage in that deal and the Canucks were willing to help them out of a crunch in exchange for good value.
The Golden Knights have existed only since 2017 but the team already has a well-earned reputation of being aggressive, bold bidders on the player acquisition market to improve immediately, and this signing is just the latest example of that. Vegas has made it to at least the Western Conference finals in two of its first three seasons and clearly the front office is trying to capitalize on the current window and put the roster over the top, even if they have to pay for that aggressiveness later.