LA Kings: Alex Pietrangelo signing intensifies rivalry with Golden Knights

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

All future matchups between the LA Kings and Vegas Golden Knights should have a little more excitement after the Alex Pietrangelo signing.

Despite being in salary cap H-E-double hockey sticks, the Vegas Golden Knights have reportedly signed Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year deal at an $8.8M AAV. And they are approximately $7M over the salary cap (update below).

The LA Kings are bystanders in this whole thing, but the two teams have quickly turned into rivals within the Pacific Divison. Especially after the Erik Haula/Anze Kopitar incident in 2018. Vegas is obviously much closer to a Stanley Cup than the Kings are right now, recently falling to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Finals while LA failed to make the playoff bubble.

But Golden Knights’ general manager Kelly McCrimmon handled this whole thing very poorly. We knew that Vegas was likely to sign either Torey Krug or Pietrangelo. But after the former signed with Pietrangelo’s now-former team, it became clear who the target was. While they cleared some cap space trading away Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets, they need to move one or two players to get under the salary cap before the season begins.

And the way they have been going about trying to clear cap space has reportedly upset some players on their roster.

No question that Shea Theodore and Pietrangelo will form one of the best, if not the best, defensive pairings in the league. The former is only 25 and has emerged into one of the most offensively deadly blueliners. And Pietrangelo is a year removed from helping the St. Louis Blues win their first-ever Stanley Cup title.

And despite finishing with just 64 points in the regular season, the LA Kings took 3-of-4 from the Golden Knights. In the immediate future, Vegas projects to be the better team, but LA has the far superior prospect pool. And the Kings also have a couple of things the Golden Knights don’t have. Salary cap flexibility and draft capital.

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When Vegas inevitably finds a suitor for Marc Andre-Fleury and the rumored Nate Schmidt as salary cap dumps, they’ll likely have to include a draft pick to sweeten the deal as well. Already without a third-round pick in next year’s draft, whatever they have to include will hurt them from restocking their prospect pool.

So what they have on the NHL roster is likely going to be “it” for quite some time. Only Alec Martinez and Tomas Nosek will come off the books after the 2020-2021 season.

Back on the ice, you best bet that when these two teams meet up during the regular season, there will be a little extra motivation for the LA Kings to beat Vegas. And especially over the next couple of seasons, as the prospect pool graduates to the NHL, the likes of Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev are going to be significant scoring factors for the Kings.

Could these two teams meet in the Western Conference Final one day?

And as I am just finishing this, news just broke that Schmidt was traded to Vancouver for a third-round pick in 2022. That shows that Vegas is trying to extend its window as far as possible with the current group. The move still leaves the Golden Knights approximately $1M over the salary cap. They’ll have to make one more move to get under before the season.