Armstrong talks Blues’ free-agency plans

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Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said today (audio) that he doesn’t expect to have contracts in place for defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and wingers Chris Stewart before free agency opens on Friday.

Both players are restricted free agents.

So…what’s the plan?

According to True Hockey’s Andy Strickland, it’s “sounding more and more like” the Blues will take Stewart, 25, to arbitration.

Pietrangelo, 23, doesn’t have arbitration rights, but Armstrong didn’t sound worried about getting a deal done eventually. (Armstrong has already indicated he’d match any offer sheets for his key RFAs.)

In the meantime, Armstrong has been talking to some free-agent centers to see if there’s a fit. He also expects all three goalies — Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen — will be at camp.

In terms of attracting free agents, Armstrong believes the Blues have become a more appealing option for free agents that, in addition to money, want a chance to win, play with good players and live in a nice place.

Related: Blues re-sign Leopold: two years, $4.5 million