(Hockeystl) -- Blues fans can breathe a sigh of relief as it looks like the Blues are prepared to spend whatever it takes to keep Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk in St. Louis. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman posted an article on Monday in which Blues general manager Doug Armstrong addressed the upcoming offseason and how he foresees it playing out. One thing seems to be certain, Armstrong is not prepared to part with either of his team’s top defensemen.
"You sign bad contracts when you sign contracts out of fear,” Armstrong told Friedman. “We have stable ownership. We'll match any offer sheet. We will get (Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk) signed at contracts everyone is comfortable with."
"Our fans have seen enough of the business side, let's see competition take over -- have a good year and worry about it at the proper time."
Both Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk are set to become restricted free agents at the end of this season, and getting them locked up to long-term deals will be priority No. 1 for Armstrong. The Blues can expect Shattenkirk, who has arbitration rights, to want a deal similar to that of Ducks’ defenseman Cam Fowler. Fowler signed a five-year $20 million contract with Anaheim in September. This is likely in the ballpark for Shattenkirk and he will get it.
Shattenkirk has been with the Blues for two full seasons after being acquired from Colorado in a trade. This season, Shattenkirk leads all Blues’ defensemen in points and assists. He is No. 10 among all NHL defensemen in points as well.
Pietrangelo, who is as good if not better than Shattenkirk, will likely receive a greater compensation from the Blues. As Armstrong mentioned, he isn’t too concerned with Pietrangelo receiving an offer sheet, though it has to be in the back of his mind.
Top defensemen are in high demand around the league, and Nashville’s Shea Weber is a prime example of team’s not being afraid to lure away a player with an offer sheet. This past offseason, Weber signed an offer sheet worth $110 million over 14 years. The offer sheet was submitted by the Philadelphia Flyers, who aren’t afraid to throw around money to improve their team. The Predators did match the offer sheet, and were able to keep Weber in Nashville; however, that type of contract can cripple a team financially. It is certainly not something the Blues want to see happen with Pietrangelo. But it is a possibility.
Pietrangelo likely will be looking for a contract similar to that of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who was inked to a seven-year $45 million contract in June by the Senators. Pietrangelo, who is regarded as a better all-around defenseman compared to Karlsson, could receive more. Pietrangelo, who is only 23 years old, has a real shot at winning the Norris Trophy for the NHL’s best defenseman in the next couple of seasons. He was on the cusp last season, but it was Karlsson who ended up with the award.
Needless to say, this upcoming offseason will be huge for the Blues. If Tom Stillman and his group of local investors hadn’t taken over the Blues before the end of last season, the team would be in a world of hurt this upcoming offseason. The good news is that Stillman appears to have the money to keep his stars in St. Louis, and Armstrong is very confident that a deal will be reached with both Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo.
The Blues currently have nearly $20 million in cap space open according to Capgeek.com. Signing Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk will get pricey, but it won’t be out of the Blues financial reach to sign them. Hopefully a long-term deal can be reached with both, as the Blues have two of the most talented defensemen in the league, and keeping them in St. Louis is the only option.