Alex Pietrangelo is reportedly set to become the 21st captain in St. Louis Blues history.
The St. Louis Blues have called a press conference for 2:00 PM on Thursday at Scottrade Center, with GM Doug Armstrong and head coach Ken Hitchcock set to make a “major announcement” about the team. According to Jeremy Rutherford and Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will be announced as the club’s new captain, becoming the 21st captain in franchise history.
Pietrangelo, who was widely considered the favorite to take over the captain’s role, will replace forward David Backes, who defected to the Boston Bruins in free agency this summer. Backes had been the Blues’ captain since 2011 and was more synonymous with the role than most of the other players who have filled it during the course of the Blues’ history.
Pietrangelo is regarded by most as one of the better defenseman in the NHL, and with six complete seasons and portions of two others under his belt, it seems like the right moment for the 26-year-old to ascend to the primary leadership role.
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In 73 games last season, Pietrangelo had seven goals, 30 assists, and a rating of plus-10. Over the course of his career, he’s played in 459 NHL games, collecting 51 goals and 204 assists with a plus-53 rating.
With Pietrangelo officially ascending to the captain’s role, the Blues will have to decide on at least one new alternate captain for 2016-17, as Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen wore the ‘A’s last season. The team has previously utilized a rotation of alternates, with a larger group of players trading off, usually on a home-road basis. Armstrong and Hitchcock spoke about how tightening the designated leadership group to just two players helped with team chemistry last season, but with most of their veteran leadership gone now with Backes, Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott, and Brian Elliott having departed, perhaps they’ll feel the need to re-evaluate the situation.
Players who would be logical candidates to wear an ‘A’ next season include Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Berglund and Shattenkirk’s candidacy for the position could be lessened by the fact that they’re scheduled to enter free agency next summer, though Steen is a free agent next summer, too, meaning that they may have to re-evaluate the leadership group next summer no matter what.