Alex Pietrangelo is already proving to be exactly what the Vegas Golden Knights thought he would be.
There is no doubt that Alex Pietrangelo was one of the biggest prizes available in Free Agency and, after deciding not to re-sign with the St. Louis Blues, he signed a big-ticket seven year, $61,600,000 contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.
It continued a trend for the Golden Knights who have made a habit of going big-game hunting since entering the NHL three years ago, making blockbuster trades for stars in the ilk of Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Robin Lehner.
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As a result, Vegas has been a contender from day one and in their three short seasons they’ve made the Stanley Cup Final and the Western Conference Finals, while making the postseason every single year. That is what you call an impressive resume for a team that has rewritten the blueprint for expansion franchises in all of the major sports.
However, as good as the Vegas Golden Knights have been, they have lacked one major piece and that is an absolute horse on the backend that can log huge minutes, play in all situations, contribute in all three zones and be counted on to make huge plays in the biggest moments of games, instead relying on a committee of solid but spectacular blueliners to get the job done.
General Manager Kelly McCrimmon clearly identified Alex Pietrangelo as that guy and, so far, that is exactly how it is panning out for the Golden Knights who have appear to have finally found their franchise defenseman.
Alex Pietrangelo the reliable workhorse
Although just a three-game sample size, Pietrangelo has been relied on by Head Coach Pete DeBoer a hell of a lot, playing on the top-pairing with Brayden McNabb and logging an average of 26:20 of ice time per game, including a mammoth 29:26 minutes against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, which is virtually unheard of this early in the season. DeBoer has made a note of pointing out that he will have to keep an eye on the workload for his blueliners.
However, in a shortened 56-game season where every single game will be crucial in the overall Playoff picture, it is likely that Pietrangelo especially will be asked to log huge minutes on a regular basis because, after all, that’s what he was brought to Vegas to do.
He’s averaged 2:45 on the power play and 2:12 on the penalty kill, further illustrating just how important Pietrangelo is to this team and how much they now rely on him in all situations, and he’s quickly become their go-to guy in all situations.
So, how has Pietrangelo performed in a three-game sample size? You have to say that he has largely come as advertised although the production isn’t there just yet with just one point (0 G, 1 A) to go along with a plus / minus rating of +3 in three games, although he has blocked a total of 12 shots already.
There has been the odd mistake too, including in the 2-1 Overtime win over the Ducks on Saturday when the veteran made a very aggressive pinch at the blueline which led to an odd-man rush for Anaheim, although superb hustle from Brayden McNabb to get back, lay out and poke the puck away bailed out his new partner.
However, there is no doubt that the production will come for Pietrangelo given that he’s an elite all-round defenseman and he will also iron out certain kinks in his game once he gets settled with his new team but, based on what the Vegas Golden Knights needed and what they signed him to do, Alex Pietrangelo is already carrying out his job of being an absolute workhorse to perfection and that will ensure everything else follows for both player and team.