Ah, the lockout. You know that it's gone on too long when focus shifts from how long the darn thing is going to last to whether or not the new CBA (which doesn't exist yet) will impact contract terms. No one knows what the term limit will be in the new deal. Owners would like to see a limit on contracts to five years, with free agent re-signings at seven. Obviously, this is to avoid deals like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Marian Hossa, and Ilya Kovalchuk got. You know, deals that were sanctioned by the owners.
In the owners' attempt to protect themselves from themselves, the limitation to five years seems like an even handed way to do it. For the fans, though, not being sure if you have a franchise's star player locked up is more than a little concerning. Five years isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, especially for youngsters just now coming off of their entry-level deals. Youngsters like Alex Pietrangelo, who has become the cornerstone of the Blues' blue-line. About the last thing any Blues fan would like to think of is Petro heading off to a different team after five years because the money might be better elsewhere. Contract negotiations every five years might very well force the price of free agents up more often, instead of now where they're locked in at whatever pay rate they're signed to.
And, let's face it, it's the Blues. They're not the luckiest team when it comes to defensemen, and whenever they get a good one, they tend to like to hold on to him for a while, unless the team is owned by Bill Laurie. Then it's ok to trade off a future hall of famer and your team's captain for a bucket of parts. I digress, but the point is there. Fans have a legitimate reason to worry. The franchise doesn't have the money to throw around, although if they were to throw it at someone Pietrangelo would be the person to throw it towards. Under the new CBA, it might not be that much money anyway considering that the cap would fall. But still -- just the possibility of him walking after five years is enough to send fans rushing for a pitcher of beer. There's no doubt that Pietrangelo (as well as Kevin Shattenkirk, who this will apply to as well soon) are partially responsible for the team's resurgence and dominant performance last season.
Will fans tolerate having to wait five years for Pietrangelo to become a UFA before getting him to a longer term contract? Not that they have a choice in the matter, but no one wants to see a potential for one of the best defensemen in the game to scoot out of the city. He just bought a house here -- wouldn't it be better if he lived in it instead of just holding on to it for retirement? Everyone, including Pietrangelo, would prefer that. Of course, everyone'd prefer the CBA just get agreed on, too, and that's not happening any time soon.