News flash: Alex Pietrangelo is vital to St. Louis’ success

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This may not come as a surprise to anyone, but Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is quite good.

Examining his last three seasons in the league, his production on offense as well as solid play defensively, somehow has yet to make him a household name.

In 2010-2011, his first full NHL season, he put up 11 goals and 43 points. He followed that up the following season with 12 goals and 51 points. If you dug into his advanced numbers those seasons (’10-’11, ’11-’12), you’d see he was even better than those numbers detailed.

Even in last year’s lockout-shortened season, Pietrangelo had a great year with five goals and 24 points in 47 games. He and Kevin Shattenkirk were, by far, the Blues’ top two defensemen which makes it all the more curious Pietrangelo is still an unsigned restricted free agent.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong hopes a deal will get done before training camp and the team isn’t in peril with the salary cap with just under $8 million in cap space. Even owner Tom Stillman has crowed about the money they’ve spent to keep their other RFAs.

So what’s the problem here?

Pietrangelo is the best defenseman the Blues have had since Al MacInnis or Chris Pronger and at the ripe old age of 23 he’s a guy they can lock up in St. Louis until he’s 31 if they’d like. If they want to follow in Montreal’s footsteps with how they handled P.K. Subban’s two-year deal, they have to be careful.

They’re likely hoping the deal they inked Shattenkirk to will provide the framework they want, but if Pietrangelo continues to play this well, and perhaps even better, the price will only keep rising.