Alex Pietrangelo visits Vegas after failing to hold up FA market

Within about an hour of the NHL Free Agency's opening night, Pietrangelo's plethora of options seems to be disappearing in a flash. (Getty)
It seemed certain that Alex Pietrangelo would keep the free agent market up until the moment he decided on his playful future. This is one of the most valuable means of attaining an unrestricted free hand in recent history and the type of player that almost every championship contender seems to need.
Even in these hugely adverse times for NHL franchises, and especially for the owners whose businesses were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation still seemed quite favorable for Pietrangelo. His current team, the St. Louis Blues, did not bend clearly at the knee, but they had every reason to create market value amid public pressure to keep one of the most important players in the club's history. Pietrangelo also had his hometown team and club belonging to the loudest hockey market in the world, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who showed interest, with a clear and obvious need, in addition to the Vegas Golden Knights who have made their three-year history in The League developed into one of the most desirable destinations for gamers.
Everything Pietrangelo needed to maintain and maximize his earning potential despite the situation was there.
Until suddenly it wasn't anymore.
Call it a proper read on the tea leaves or an early decision to settle for a little less, but within an hour on the evening of the agency's opening day, Pietrangelo's options seem to disappear in a flash. Toronto did its part by bringing T.J. Brodie fills his hole on the right side of the blue line with a cheaper and lesser option. Then the Blues Pietrangelo seemed to slam the door, signing Torey Krug, the other marquee defense agent, on a huge seven-year deal.
After that, the Blues were unwilling to acknowledge that Pietrangelo's stint in St. Louis was over, but the unrest seemed to leave Vegas as the only cheap option for the # 1 free agent on the board.
With that in mind, it came as no surprise that the star defender got on a plane to Sin City on Saturday to visit the Golden Knights.
It is very likely that the top-heavy Leafs were never realistic players for Pietrangelo. And it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Blues were willing to stray from their captain, albeit for reasons that would be difficult to understand. It is also plausible that despite suggesting that he wanted to take the time to properly weigh his options, Pietrangelo's intentions had become clear and that other interested parties were right to move on.
But however we got to that point, it seems to be working incredibly well for the Golden Knights.
Yes, they have to move mountains or some really legitimate talent to get Pietrangelo below the salary cap. However, this is one of the few NHL teams that can combine deep pockets with unwavering ambition and built-in tax breaks, and that seems only a big step away from creating the space required after Paul Stastny recently found a new home.
What a move it would be for the Golden Knights - one of the true Stanley Cup contenders already - to sign one of the driving forces behind the title fight in St. Louis less than 18 months ago.
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