The St. Louis Blues ended up landing one of the most prominent defensemen in 2020 NHL Free Agency, but they signed Torey Krug, rather than retaining Alex Pietrangelo.
The Blues announced that they signed Krug to a seven-year, $45.5M contract ($6.5M cap hit).
Blues sign free agent Torey Krug: seven years, $45.5M ($6.5M AAV)
Naturally, there are plenty of fascinating subplots to this.
Most obviously, this means that the Blues are all but guaranteed to see Alex Pietrangelo walk away in free agency. It also, interestingly, means the Blues snatched Krug from the Bruins, the team they beat in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
Did we just become best friends??? pic.twitter.com/wjGrpboq8n
— Robert Thomas (@RThomas_27) October 10, 2020
Remarkably, Krug and Justin Faulk will share identical contracts, at least in money and term.
Inevitably, Krug will be compared to Pietrangelo. That may not be fair, although there are some pluses. For one thing, Krug is slightly younger (turned 29 on April 12) than Pietrangelo (turned 30 on Jan. 18). So, Krug is younger and almost certainly will be cheaper.
But, so far, there’s no denying that Pietrangelo boasts a higher standing in the NHL. Krug probably deserves a little more credit than he receives, though.
Torey Krug, going to St. Louis, is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, especially on the powerplay. He's not quite on Pietrangelo's level but this certainly isn't a bad consolation prize by any stretch #stlblues pic.twitter.com/VSivs7nWMc
— HB Analytics (@HBAnalytica) October 10, 2020
Cap Friendly basically puts the Blues’ cap space at or around zero. With (also-underrated) defenseman Vince Dunn lingering as an RFA, St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong’s work isn’t done. Even if that means having to move on from Dunn, and maybe shedding some salary elsewhere.
Overall, though? If you have to walk away from Pietrangelo, Krug is a nice fit. That said, that term is risky, even for a very valuable player.
The Blues are very much built to win now, just with Krug instead of Pietrangelo going forward.
Oh, and about the Bruins’ chances of bringing back Krug?
Torey Krug on the Bruins' offer: "It was pulled from me. I didn’t have an offer. When they offered me a year ago and then it’s gone, I don’t know what I’m expected to do. Just being blunt and being honest with you. Most people don’t share that side of it but it is what it is."
— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) October 10, 2020
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.