With the St. Louis Blues' reign as Stanley Cup champions now officially over thanks to their playoff elimination by the Vancouver Canucks, the offseason speculation has begun. There are sure to be changes in St. Louis after a disappointing post-season, but the biggest question mark for this team is what happens with captain Alex Pietrangelo?
The pending unrestricted free agent is due for a hefty pay raise, but he may not get it from the Blues considering their cap crunch. The Blues have less than $1 million in cap space and need to need to re-sign both Pietrangelo and defenseman Vince Dunn to keep their D-corps intact. Either GM Doug Armstrong has to move out some salary or he and Blues fans will have to say goodbye to their captain and franchise icon.
If Pietrangelo does leave, where does he go?
Fans and analysts have quickly drawn up plans for Pietrangelo to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. It makes sense on paper, but little sense in real life. Pietrangelo is just the kind of capable, experienced blueliner that the Leafs desperately need. And he's a local boy to boot. This fantasy ignores the fact that the Leafs have even less cap space available than the Blues do, but that hasn't stopped Leafs Nation from dreaming about a Petro-led Stanley Cup Parade in downtown Toronto.
And here's the thing... Pietrangelo has no interest in leaving St. Louis.
At his season ending press conference earlier today Pietrangelo made it clear that he's hoping to re-sign with the Blues and hasn't considered the Leafs or any other NHL team for that matter.
"I want to stay a Blue, of course I do," Pietrangelo said in a season wrap up interview with reporters over Zoom. "(St. Louis) is the only place I've known in professional hockey. This organization means a lot to me."
For all those Leafs fans saying that Pietrangelo will want to return to Toronto since he "grew up there", just know that Pietrangelo himself doesn't see things that way.
"I grew up here, this is the only place I know professionally," he said about the city of St. Louis. "The family is here, I grew up here as a player and a person. I've got sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews (here)."
I gotta say... Pietrangelo sounds very much at home in St. Louis, I'm not sure there's any reason to "return home" when you're already there.