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Blues sign Pietrangelo to seven-year contract

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The Alex Pietrangelo contract dispute with the St. Louis Blues didn't last very long into training camp. The sides wanted a deal done as quickly as possible, and it came to fruition Friday.

The Blues' top-end defenseman signed a seven-year contract worth $45.5 million ($6.5 million per season).

"Really excited to be a part of Blues organization for the next 7 years," Pietrangelo wrote on his verified Twitter account (@apetro_27). "Excited for the opportunity."

Pietrangelo's contract breaks down the same as that of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who signed a seven-year, $45.5 million deal that began last season. Pietrangelo, who was a restricted free agent and the only player on the Blues roster not at training camp, will make $5 million this season, $5.5 million in 2014-15, $6.5 million in 2015-16, $7 million in each of the next three seasons, and $7.5 million in 2019-20.

Pietrangelo, who finished his three-year, $9.675 million entry-level contract last season, missed the opening of training camp after the sides could not come to terms on an agreement in a last-ditch effort Tuesday night.

Alex Pietrangelo
G: 29 | A: 92 | P: 121
SOG: 470 | +/-: 25
Pietrangelo, 23, was said to be seeking a contract similar to Drew Doughty's with the Los Angeles Kings. Doughty has an eight-year, $56 million contract (an average annual value of $7 million).

Pietrangelo and Doughty are represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports and came from the 2008 NHL Draft class (Doughty was the second pick, Pietrangelo was fourth). The Blues were said to be offering $6 million per season.

"I think all in all, this is a fair deal for both sides," Meehan said. "... Even though some of these issues were difficult, we had agreed that we would continue to speak with each other. I've been at it long enough to know that you can't operate on this basis waiting for the other person to call."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Pietrangelo's camp re-engaged in contract talks Thursday and the sides split the difference in dollar amount, and Friday completed the details. The contract includes a no-trade clause for the final three years.

"We're excited," Armstrong said. "It's a day that I knew was going to come at some point. I was hoping it was going to be a few days ago, but we had a conversation yesterday, a scheduled call today, and we were able to wrap up all the loose ends that were there.

"In talking to Alex, I know he's very excited to be part of the organization. What I said to him, 'This isn't a seven-year deal, this is just another stepping stone to the rest of your career.' I think he's excited to be here. I know we're excited to have him, get him in here to St. Louis tomorrow and turn him over to the coach."

Armstrong said Tuesday a bridge contract was a possibility after another failed attempt at an agreement, but the sides were focused on a long-term deal and were able to come to terms on a contract that will take Pietrangelo three years into unrestricted free agent status.

"He's the one player that has that quality to be an elite player in our game and in his position," Armstrong said. "I view him as a potential Norris Trophy winner, I view him as someone who can dominate a game. He has the ability to play half the game, he touches every aspect of our team, power play, penalty killing. He has leadership qualities, he's played internationally and done very well.

"I just think at his age, defense is a position that's a little slower to mature at than maybe a forward, and what he's accomplished so far sets up for an outstanding career. I think we're all very fortunate to have it here in St. Louis."

Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who has been Pietrangelo's partner since arriving in a trade from the Calgary Flames last season, spent time with the King City, Ontario native at Canada Olympic Orientation Camp in August.

"From his perspective, I saw him a couple weeks ago and no one wants to sit out, no one wants to do that," Bouwmeester said. "He wants to be here. Absolutely the quicker you get it done ... it's not a drawn-out thing.

"You have everyone there. I don't think it was a distraction. It's out of the way. It's done, and you move along."

Blues captain David Backes said it's natural for a player to be itching to get into camp while his teammates are fully engaged and preparing for what is expected to be another solid season.

"I can’t imagine that it doesn't," Backes said. "Your nature as a team-sport athlete is to be around the guys and to be in that locker room, to have the camaraderie in the room. When you're kind of that outcast, that guy sitting at home, all because of business things, not because of injury or because of your ability to play that game, that has to eat at you. I think anybody that's ever held out would admit that.

"The moral of the story is, it was very short-lived and I think it shows on both sides that [Alex] wanted to be here long term and the Blues wanted him here long term. It's a great relationship that's going to be great for this organization for the long term."

Coach Ken Hitchcock said Friday that missing two days of practice won't affect Pietrangelo's progress.

"I think with training camp and exhibition games, he's going to get up to speed," Hitchcock said. "He hasn't missed much. We kept him up to date until we couldn't speak to him anymore. He knows the last couple weeks what's going on, players have kept him up to date. Just missing the first two ice sessions isn't a big deal. He'll catch up to speed right away.

"For him, for the team, for where we want to go to the next level, all those things, I think it's important (for Pietrangelo to be at camp). It's not a distraction now. Our team's in place. Now it's just who can do what during training camp."

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