The St. Louis Blues will not allow Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart or Patrik Berglund to leave the team as free agents this summer, general manager Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. All four are restricted free agents, which means other teams can tender them offer sheets, but the Blues can match them and intend to.
"We’re going to want it the way we think is proper for the St. Louis Blues. If there’s an offer sheet there, we’re very content with where we are with the NHL salary cap, we’re going to be able to match any offer and we will. These are core players that we’re not going to let go."
Armstrong also said that the team's salary cap situation will allow them to match any offer, no matter how high, and still remain under the cap. The team is estimated to have $41 million committed to 16 players for next season right now, according to CapGeek.com.
Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk are the most likely to be tendered offer sheets. Both are under 25 years old and have been excellent defensemen, with Pietrangelo notching 24 points in 47 games this year and Shattenkirk tallying 23 points in 48 games.
Pietrangelo in particular will be interesting after finishing fourth in Norris Trophy voting a year ago, but regressing in 2013 with an inconsistent season. Whether a team bets on him being one of the best defensemen in the league again, and is willing to pay him as such, that could force the Blues to match a massive offer sheet.
Ideally, the team will be able to sign all four players before they hit free agency. The Blues have had preliminary discussions with the players and they do plan to have more serious discussions about new contracts with the quartet before they will become free agents on July 5, but it is unlikely that they sign all four by then, so free agency is just about inevitable.