While it has been rumored for the last few days, the Golden Knights announced that they have struck a deal with the top UFA on the market in defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, inking him to a seven-year, $61.6MM contract for an $8.8MM AAV. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds (via Twitter) that the pact contains a full no-move clause. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic provides the full breakdown:
- 2020-21: $2.0MM salary + $3.0MM signing bonus
- 2021-22: $2.0MM salary + $3.0MM signing bonus
- 2022-23: $1.0MM salary + $7.0MM signing bonus
- 2023-24: $4.3MM salary + $8.0MM signing bonus
- 2024-25: $4.5MM salary + $8.0MM signing bonus
- 2025-26: $4.0MM salary + $6.0MM signing bonus
- 2026-27: $8.8MM salary
The 30-year-old is the first number one defender to hit the open market in quite some time but in this particular environment with a flattened salary cap, very few players have managed to land a big-money, long-term contract. Many expected Pietrangelo to be the exception and this is indeed the case as his new deal is the longest handed out to any UFA so far and makes him the fifth highest-paid blueliner in the league. The deal comes in quite close to our projection as we had him pegged for a seven-year, $61.25MM in our Top-50 UFA list where he was the unanimous choice for number one.
Pietrangelo is coming off of one of the best offensive seasons of his career as he put up 16 goals and 36 assists in 70 games while logging more than 24 minutes per game for the ninth straight season. Few teams, including the Golden Knights, have a blueliner of this caliber and while Vegas has managed to build a strong back end without a true top option, their defense corps will be that much stronger now.
GM Kelly McCrimmon’s job is far from done, however. The team is now well over the salary cap and by the time you factor in all one-way contracts and two-way deals pro-rated based on their 2019-20 days on the roster (which are factored in the 10% allowable offseason overage), Vegas is over the $89.65MM offseason Upper Limit. Accordingly, cap-clearing moves need to come soon.
In recent days, defenseman Nate Schmidt ($5.95MM through 2024-25) has been a speculative trade candidate which makes sense as Pietrangelo plays the same side he does. The Golden Knights could also move goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury ($7MM through 2021-22) who is expendable after the extension of Robin Lehner but they haven’t had much interest in him so far and any trade would almost certainly require some salary retention.
In Pietrangelo, Vegas has landed another top-end player but while they didn’t pay anything but money to get him, we’ll soon find out the other part of the acquisition cost in who has to be moved out before the deal can be made official.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic was first to report) the $8.8MM price tag.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.