Doing a couple final checks around the Twitter world I uncovered a tidbit Blues fans will be extremely interested.
While I do not see an official statement from the Blues on their site however, I have come to trust JR and Kerbs. Blues Vice President of Hockey Operations said on Team 1380 today that the team had already come to a decision on Pietrangelo’s status with the team and as of this afternoon that was not public knowledge. I am assuming that this decision was ready before his sluggish performance tonight against the US Team in the WJC Gold Medal game.
What does this mean Blues fans? Well a couple things.
1. The Blues are set on their current depth on defense.
2. They expect enough offensive output to come from Johnson, Colaiacovo, and Brewer to make this team competitive.
3. His offensive upside did not counter balance his defensive shortcomings.
4. They want to give Strachan and Junland a chance to get NHL time if the need arises. They do have more experience at higher levels than Alex.
I hope Alex doesn’t see this as the end of the world. I doubt he does, but I am sure it stings to find out that you aren’t going back to the NHL when you just lost the biggest game of your career to date. Alex has said that the front office has communicated clearly with him before on their plans for him. My guess is he takes his problems to task and improves on them. If Team Canada entrusted him with an “A” for the World Junior Championships, then the people with real hockey smarts see he is improving and maturing as a player.
Before fans start in with the “bust” label, let’s do a reality check.
- At the 2008 Draft it was said that of the 4 defensemen taken in the top 5 picks, he had the highest ceiling and the most development needed to get to the NHL level. Just because Doughty is lighting the world on fire and Alex isn’t, doesn’t mean tat Alex won’t get there.
- The Blues have 7 defensemn under contracts on the NHL roster already. By sending him back, his contract clock doesn’t start ticking yet. That means more years he is paid less, which helps the franchise pay the bills.
- The Blues have two very capable defensemen in Peoria who can step in to the same role Alex would. Strachan and Junland are just further along in their development than he is. The Blues will also have to re-sign both players and they need to see what they have in each guy going forward.
- Once his season is done back in Juniors, he can join up with Peoria if they are still playing.
I can say I am as disappointed as most Blues fans to hear this news. We all want to see the high draft picks blossom right away like other teams. However, there really is no room for him and he hasn’t shown enough progression to move himself up the Blues depth chart. So why burn a year of his contract? The Blues are working towards a special team filled with capable talent. Sometimes that talent doesn’t progress as quickly as the fans want. In this case Alex just isn’t progressed enough yet to warrant NHL ice time. When this team has the whole young core locked up and playing with experience, we won’t care that we had to send him back to Juniors.
Good luck back in Juniors Alex. Keep at it.