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Perhaps it's best when discussing 19-year-old Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to understand the parameters. This is no longer about nine games.

"I know the one thing we're not concerned about this time is just nine games," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "He could be here for 30 games, 40 games ... or three or six games. Whatever it is, if we felt it was right to send him back, we'd do it.

"We're going to do the right thing. If we didn't know after nine games, we're not going to be stuck by that."

What the Blues do know is that Pietrangelo is different from last year at this time, when he held a tentative spot on the roster. Weakened by a bout with mononucleosis, hampered by a head and neck injury, trying to parlay just 18 years and zero experience into an NHL job, Pietrangelo stayed eight games before the Blues sent him back to the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara Icedogs.

If the club keeps Pietrangelo beyond nine games, the clock on his NHL career and the organization's holding rights begin to click. Last year, under the circumstances, it made all the sense in the world not to spend a year of contractual binding on the promising young defenseman, who clearly was not ready.
Since Pietrangelo only has one more year left in junior eligibility, and we have a pretty deep in defense, I think it would be wise to send him back to juniors for one more year to keep him playing and keep his contract clock from starting.
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