The best-case scenario for the St. Louis Blues in NHL free agency is re-signing captain and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a new long-term contract.
But if Pietrangelo signs elsewhere, who could the Blues pursue on the free agent market to help replace his offensive production and leadership?
TSN's Scottie Upshall tweeted Friday afternoon that if Pietrangelo does not return to the Blues, he expects St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong to make "a big play at" signing Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug.
The Blues, despite their disappointing play in the bubble, are one of the best teams in the Western Conference and won the Central Division title this past season. Pietrangelo's departure would create a sizeable hole in St. Louis' blue line. Krug and T.J. Brodie are among the top defensemen on the free agent market who the Blues could target for help on the left side of the blue line.
Krug going to St. Louis would be a pretty tough sight for Bruins fans after what happened in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins blew a great chance at winning a championship when they lost to the Blues at home in Game 7 of the 2019 Cup Final. It was the Blues' first Stanley Cup championship in team history, and Pietrangelo was the first player to lift the Cup at TD Garden as St. Louis' captain.
Pietrangelo is without question a better all-around player than Krug. Both players typically provide between 45 and 55 points per season, but Pietrangelo brings much more size (6-foot-3 and 205 pounds) and is a better defensive player. Pietrangelo is a shutdown defenseman who's going to excel playing 24-plus minutes against the opponent's top forwards each night. Krug is not that kind of two-way defenseman.
Let's also not forget about the legacy Pietrangelo has carved out with the Blues. He's been a tremendous player in St. Louis for about a decade, he's a fan favorite, and as previously mentioned he helped lead the team to its only title.
Going from Pietrangelo to Krug would be a downgrade for the Blues, but the Bruins defenseman is still a pretty good player in his own right, and he would help St. Louis generate offense at even strength and the power play.