When the St. Louis Blues went out and acquired Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes, only to sign him to a seven-year $45.5MM extension immediately, eyebrows raised around the hockey world. Where exactly did that leave captain Alex Pietrangelo, who plays the same position and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season? Well, the Blues tried to answer some of that question by pairing Pietrangelo and Faulk together for a time, but that didn’t take (though hasn’t been completely abandoned either, as we saw last night), and now there is a report about some recent meetings between the two sides.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet writes in his latest 31 Thoughts column that Pietrangelo’s agents met with GM Doug Armstrong yesterday, and reports that the Blues are hoping to use Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66MM deal as a “baseline” in talks. That $8.25MM average annual value currently makes Ekman-Larsson the fourth-highest paid defenseman in the league behind only Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban. Another interesting comparable for Pietrangelo might be Roman Josi, who is also dealing with extension negotiations at the moment with the Nashville Predators.
- One other note from the 31 Thoughts column revolves around Alexander Barabanov, a 25-year old KHL forward that Friedman reports will be scouted in-person by several NHL executives. Barabanov’s ice time has drastically reduced this season, but recorded 46 points in 58 games last year for SKA St. Petersburg. That total put him behind only New Jersey Devils forward Nikita Gusev and ahead of other Russian stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Plotnikov.
- Suspensions came down today in the AHL, with both Hubert Labrie of the Belleville Senators and Paul Thompson of the Springfield Thunder facing two-game bans for incidents on Saturday. In Labrie’s case, his elbow caused Kenny Agostino of the Toronto Marlies to suffer a concussion that will keep him out indefinitely. Thompson meanwhile hit Thomas Hickey of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but the veteran defenseman was back in action yesterday as he tries to fight his way back to the NHL.
Petro will be the highest paid defensemen if he hits the open market. He’s just as good as Doughty and just won a cup along with his gold medal.