The Vegas Golden Knights are rumored to be close to signing the top unrestricted free agent on the market in defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, according to The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, who says a deal could be completed as early as tonight. Fox Sports Andy Strickland confirms that the Golden Knights and Pietrangelo are working towards finalizing a contract.
The deal could also coincide with a trade as the Golden Knights, who have already moved out Paul Stastny, are also a likely candidate to move out defenseman Nate Schmidt and his contract, which includes five more years at $5.95MM AAV. It’s likely both moves could be done in tandem with the belief that the Winnipeg Jets might again be part of that package, which would include restricted free agent Jack Roslovic. Even that trade could prove to be complicated as the Jets might be forced to move out a contract in order to take on Schmidt’s contract.
For the Golden Knights, bringing in Pietrangelo would finally give the franchise its first clear cut No. 1 defenseman. The team had tried to pry away Erik Karlsson several years ago at the trade deadline, but failed to pull that trade off. This time, the team is trying to juggle its finances to fit Pietrangelo into their salary cap, which is quite a daunting task.
Pietrangelo has been a stabilizing force the last 11 seasons with the Blues and is coming off an impressive season last year. The 30-year-old had 16 goals and 52 assists in 70 games and another six points in nine playoff games for the Blues, but is probably best known for his defensive abilities, something that could only help Vegas in their quest to win a Stanley Cup in the next couple of years. Vegas also has a major need for a right-handed blueliner as the only right-hander on the team is Zach Whitecloud.
The Golden Knights still have to move out goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7MM AAV contract for the next two years, but with little movement on that front over the last week, the team might be more likely forced to move out one of their pricier defensemen with Schmidt’s salary being the largest at the moment.