Free agent defenseman Alex Pietrangelo visited the Golden Knights on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Pietrangelo, considered the top prize of this year’s free agent class, is a two-time All-Star and one of the NHL’s best blue liners. The 30-year-old was the St. Louis Blues’ captain when they won the Stanley Cup in 2019, and he finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting last season.
Pietrangelo probably is shopping for a new home after the Blues signed free agent defenseman Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract Friday. The Knights would appear to be the front-runner for his services after they secured his first visit.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong didn’t shut the door Friday on re-signing Pietrangelo, but he acknowledged “the likelihood isn’t great” with the team over the salary cap. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Friday he talked to Pietrangelo’s agent, Mark Guy, but the team signed defenseman T.J. Brodie to a four-year, $20 million contract instead.
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who has a hole on his blue line after Krug’s departure, said he has not talked to Pietrangelo’s camp. Other rumored suitors include the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche.
Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon declined to discuss specific free agent targets in his video news conference Friday. Guy declined comment Saturday on Pietrangelo’s situation.
If he signs with the Knights, Pietrangelo would immediately become their best two-way defenseman. He also would give the team an extra right shot on the blue line.
The Knights’ top two right defensemen last season — Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore — are left-hand shots.
Pietrangelo scored a career-high 16 goals this season. He has 450 points in 758 NHL games. He averaged 24:11 of ice time last season and was part of the Blues’ power play and penalty kill.
Pietrangelo also would fit what the Knights look for from a character perspective. He has been the Blues’ captain the past four seasons and used his day with the Stanley Cup in 2019 to raise money for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Knights would need to move money off their books to fit Pietrangelo under the salary cap. His previous contract carried an average annual value of $6.5 million, and he’s earned a raise with his play.
The Knights are approximately $1.875 million under the $81.5 million salary cap limit. That doesn’t mean they can’t sign Pietrangelo, because they are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent — making their limit $89.65 million — in the offseason. They need to be cap compliant by the start of the regular season.
Adding Pietrangelo could make Schmidt ($5.95 million cap hit) or defenseman Alec Martinez ($4 million) expendable. The Knights also could trade goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but his $7 million cap hit might be a stumbling block.
Eakin goes to Buffalo
Former Knights center Cody Eakin signed a two-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, according to reports.
The Knights would have received a 2021 third-round pick from Winnipeg if Eakin re-signed with the Jets. Instead, they’ll receive a 2021 fourth-round pick.
Alex Pietrangelo file
Birthplace: King City, Ontario, Canada
2019-20 stats: 70 games, 16 goals, 36 assists