HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- A select number of players were on hand in Las Vegas last month for the NHL Awards ceremony, but Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo
was not among them. Judging by his performance last season, though, he could become a regular in Vegas -- possibly as early as next year.
Pietrangelo finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting behind Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, Nashville's Shea Weber and Boston's Zdeno Chara. But instead of reveling in his personal accomplishments last season that included career highs in goals (12), assists (39), points (51) and games played (81), Pietrangelo thinks about what might have been for a Blues team that finished with the second-best mark in franchise history.
"The worst thing was watching the Kings win the Cup, knowing that could have been us," said Pietrangelo, who helped the Blues to a 49-22-11 record and 109 points.
Defense - STL
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 39 | PTS: 51
SOG: 202 | +/-: 16
At times, it's hard to imagine that Pietrangelo is only 22 because he shows maturity beyond his years. The King City, Ontario, native is appreciative of the accolades that have started to come his way and the countless awards he could be up for in the future. However, it's obvious winning is what matters most.
"You've got to stay positive with that," Pietrangelo said of being recognized for the Norris. "You've got to take that as a compliment and use that as motivation to maybe get into that top three next year or have a chance to win it.
"It definitely feels good to know that you've accomplished that, but I've got to get better. I want to help this team win. That's my ultimate goal … meaning I've got to play better or take more of a load on my shoulders. That's what I'm going to do, keep working to get better, keep working to get stronger and try to influence games even more."
Pietrangelo, along with teammate David Perron, was on hand last week to work alongside Blues prospects who were in town for their initial orientation meetings and workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Nelson Ayotte.
It's only the middle of July, and NHL training camps aren't scheduled to get under way for another two months. But being swept out of the playoffs in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup champions doesn't leave a good taste in a player's mouth, particularly Pietrangelo's, the team's cornerstone blueliner.
"The further into the summer you get, the more focused you're getting towards starting to skate and working on things on the ice," said Pietrangelo, who said he's healthy from the MCL knee sprain he suffered in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Kings. "I haven't gone on the ice yet, but in a week or two, it's going to get to that point.
As the season approaches, Pietrangelo finds himself getting more and more excited.
"It's exciting, but the biggest thing for me is where this team's headed. Obviously with the re-signing of (Perron) and Scotty (Nichol) and whoever else we get a chance to sign, it's going to be another good year for us moving forward. What else (GM Doug Armstrong) does, I don't know, but what we have right now is going to be a fun part of it.
"Hopefully there's bigger and better things for all of us."