“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the St. Louis Blues, we pick … Alex Pietrangelo.
With a huge raise comes great responsibilities and immense pressure. Just ask other blueliners who received big pay pumps such as Drew Doughty, Shea Weber … and Brian Campbell.
As the fourth pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, much has been expected of the 23-year-old defenseman, but this is the year he’ll be expected to join the true elite level of blueliners. No doubt, he’s still young, yet his $6.5 million cap hit deletes excuses (reasonable or not).
Much like Pietrangelo, the Blues are entering a pivotal point where strong regular seasons are meaning a lot less unless they’re accompanied by a deep playoff run. Pietrangelo’s the second-highest paid Blues player behind Jay Bouwmeester, so people will expect that pairing to make the jump with St. Louis.
That’s especially true if the Blues run into the Los Angeles Kings – a team that’s clearly their kryptonite – in the playoffs once more. Pietrangelo has been compared to Doughty repeatedly, but the difference between the two so far is that the latter has enjoyed deep playoff runs and a Stanley Cup victory.
Pietrangelo’s also likely to be a part of Team Canada’s potentially impressive defensive corps, and it’s easy to see how much pressure comes with that duty.
Young or not, this Blues blueliner carries huge expectations next season.
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.