1. Can anyone replace Alex Pietrangelo?
Yup, just like a perfectly crafted pop song, this was always going to come back to a huge, thunderous chorus to close things out: How the &%@# are the St. Louis Blues going to replace Alex Pietrangelo?
Pietrangelo was the team’s captain for the better part of half a decade, was their best player for even longer, and played a crucial role in bringing the first Stanley Cup back to ‘The Gateway to the West’ four years removed from the city’s football team heading west for the bright lights and temperate climate of Los Angeles.
Per Hockey-Reference, Pietrangelo is the second-best player in franchise history behind only Brett Hull, and it’s really hard to argue with that assessment.
No matter how the Blues play this season, Pietrangelo’s absence will be felt for a very long time off the ice, and his abilities on it will be hard to replace one-for-one.
Despite having a noticeable hole on the right side of their blue-line, the Blues opted to sign a pair of left defensemen to new contracts while instead giving homegrown prospect Colton Parayko – a third-round pick in 2012 – a chance to prove his worth as a top-liner. Like Pietrangelo, Parayko is a two-way defenseman who had scored 10 goals in each of the last two seasons and was on pace for a career year before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the league’s stoppage of play.
Can Colton Parayko give the Blues 50 percent of what Pietrangelo brought to the table over the last decade? Or will the number fall closer to 90 percent? That swing could ultimately define the St. Louis Blues’ season, as how well they are able to replace Alex Pietrangelo’s production could be the difference between semi-finals out and another trip to the NHL Finals.