ST. LOUIS - Doug Armstrong wants the National Hockey League to know that even though cornerstone defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is without a contract right now, he will have one here in near future.
How soon it happens is the only question remaining.
Armstrong, who was named President of Hockey Operations / General Manager earlier Wednesday, gave a clear message about Pietrangelo: "We've kept enough cap space to address any team that thinks that they can poach him from us; that won't happen. He'll be a St. Louis Blue whether it's this weekend, two weeks, two months, a year from now. Time will tell, but we hope to get him done as quick as possible."
Pietrangelo, a restricted free agent who is represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports, played out his three-year entry-level contract at the conclusion of last season. A fourth-overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, he has 29 goals and 121 points in 219 NHL games spanning five seasons after a five-goal, 24-point campaign last season.
Pietrangelo, who also was invited to Canada's Olympic orientation camp last week in Calgary, briefly touched on the subject and his desire to re-sign with the Blues, and the team also has expressed its desire to keep him long-term.
Armstrong said the sides are in constant dialogue, but that the negotiations are an ongoing process.
"I wouldn't say we're disappointed (he's not signed). We're having constant dialogue now," Armstrong said. "... We would like him to be signed. I think he would like to be signed also. This isn't a one-way street on either side. Both sides want to do something that they're comfortable with. Probably both sides will wind up doing something that they're a little uncomfortable with, but we've made it very clear since the summer that Alex will be a St. Louis Blue when he plays hockey again."
In regards to being "uncomfortable," Armstrong said both sides likely will, in the end, sacrifice some points of emphasis.
"I find that in almost every negotiation the player wishes that he could have got a little bit more, the team wishes they could have gotten it for a little bit less," Armstrong said. "That's usually the time to make the deal. This one is no different than any other one in the sense that we're not going to be able to fulfill everything that Alex wants, and Alex is not going to be able to give us everything that we would like to have in this negotiation. So there's give-and-take, I guess. Whether uncomfortable is the right term or not ... we want it done. But we want it done where he believes he's paid fairly and where we believe we're paying him fairly and it's something that we can move forward with over the next anywhere from one to eight years and be comfortable."
In the meantime the Blues -- who open training camp next week -- are making alternative plans in case Pietrangelo isn't signed, including possibly inviting players to camp on a pro tryout basis; however, Armstrong wouldn't specify who or how many would be brought in.
It's possible the Blues and Pietrangelo could come to terms on a contract shorter in length, but it appears that getting closer to the eight-year maximum-length contract is also an option.
"I wouldn't make any assumptions on the length of the contract or even the dollar value of different term levels," Armstrong said. "That's something that I think is better left to Don and Alex and myself and ultimately the ownership group led by [Tom] Stillman. I don't think there's any benefit of doing this publicly except sort of the broader terms that we're talking today of wanting to get him in.
"We've been clear on what we think of Alex as a person and as a player, that we want him here for the long term. We've made adjustments to our roster to ensure that we can keep him here. ... Alex is going to be a St. Louis Blue. I'm very comfortable with that."
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