Montreal Canadiens: Is Marc Bergevin Trying to Get Alex Pietrangelo’s Attention?

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 06: Alex Pietrangelo. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 06: Alex Pietrangelo. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens have made a couple of moves that could make them a more desirable destination for Alex Pietrangelo.

The Montreal Canadiens have been busy already this offseason. They haven’t made any enormous, franchise changing moves, but is it possible they are setting the table for such a transaction?

The Stanley Cup final hasn’t even started yet, but the Canadiens have been busy. They traded a third round pick to the St. Louis Blues for Jake Allen last week. A couple of days ago, they sent a fifth round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for Joel Edmundson.

Jake Allen has played his entire career for the St. Louis Blues. The goaltender lost his job in the 2018-19 season to Jordan Binnington, who came out of nowhere to lead the franchise to its first ever Stanley Cup. He played really well in 24 starts for the Blues this season, leading us to believe he will be an excellent backup for Carey Price.

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Joel Edmundson came from the Hurricanes, but he played his entire career with the Blues as well before being traded shortly after winning the Stanley Cup. Edmundson is a big, physical, shutdown defender who was the number four defenceman in St. Louis as they marched to a championship just over a year ago.

Allen and Edmundson are two solid pieces that make the Montreal Canadiens better. That is, assuming Edmundson signs a contract. He is slated to be an unrestricted free agent on October 9th, but the Habs have his rights and can negotiate with him before then.

There is nothing wrong with giving up picks for a backup goaltender who is capable of playing 35 games next season and a potential second pairing defender. But, what if this is all just setting up for a much bigger move?

When Edmundson was in St. Louis, he played many of his even strength minutes with Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo was the undisputed number one defender on the team and played an enormous role in their championship season. He played in all situations and was excellent on the power play, at even strength and on the penalty kill.

Edmundson was a great partner for Pietrangelo as the big left shot defender played a steady, defensive, stay-at-home role and allowed Pietrangelo to get more involved in the offence.

Though he lost his starter’s job in 2018-19, Allen was a terrific, well-liked teammate in St. Louis and was a good friend of Pietrangelo’s.

Is it possible that Habs general manager Marc Bergevin is trying to make Montreal an attractive destination for Pietrangelo?

Pietrangelo just completed a seven year contract that paid him $6.5 million per year. That is a lot of money, but he is going to make a lot more on his next deal.

The 30 year old right shot defenceman scored 16 goals and 52 points in 70 games this season for the Blues. He was exceptional in the 2019 postseason, scoring 19 points in 26 games and playing 25:45 per night en route to winning the Cup. He is the kind of top pairing, Norris calibre defenceman that never becomes available.

Except he could be available in a few short weeks. NHL free agency opens in just over three weeks, and Pietrangelo is the top target that could be on the market. He is going to command a huge salary, but the global pandemic wreaking havoc on revenues and the salary cap not rising is going to take a lot of teams out of the running altogether.

The Montreal Canadiens will not be out of the running. They have some of the deepest pockets in the league and their owner, Geoff Molson makes a lot of his money selling beer. If there is any company that didn’t lose money during the lockdown, it was one that sells alcohol.

The Canadiens cap situation is pretty rosy as well. They currently have about $14 million available to spend under the cap for next season. They need to re-sign restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete, as well as Edmundson which would certainly eat into that number. But it does leave them enough flexibility to fit in Pietrangelo, even if they have to trade away Brett Kulak or Mete to make it all fit.

The difficult financial landscape that every franchise is facing is going to make it more difficult for teams to sign a player like Pietrangelo. There will be a handful of teams that are seriously interested and a bit of a bidding war is sure to take place for a player as good as Pietrangelo.

An argument could be made that the Canadiens made it easier for the Blues to keep Pietrangelo by taking on Allen’s full contract. However, they still have only about $5 million in cap space and need to re-sign Vince Dunn so they would have their work cut out for them to fit Pietrangelo back in.

If he does have to leave St. Louis, Montreal may offer the softest landing for him. He could be reunited with his former defence partner in Edmundson and have a old pal in Jake Allen on the team as well.

Next. Get ready for a busy, interesting offseason. dark

Maybe it is just coincidence that Bergevin was aggresive in acquiring a couple of former Blues who played with Pietrangelo for years. Edmundson and Allen are fine additions on their own, but there is no denying their presence would make Montreal a more intriguing destination for Alex Pietrangelo.