The Colorado Avalanche have been competitive over the last number of seasons — that can be accredited to good contract signings from management. The team was able to take advantage of the reasonable market price by locking up elite-level players for the long haul.
The influx of salary in today’s game has caused some teams to fall into “cap hell” forcing them to give up premium pieces in order to unload bad contracts. Fortunately for general manager Joe Sakic, he has done an impressive job making sure the team has a strong roster while maintaining cap flexibility and these are the deals he has to thank for it.
One year remaining at $5,571,429
This deal is one that has aged well for the Avalanche who signed their future captain to a seven-year deal coming out of his entry-level contract. The deal was signed back in August of 2013, which is why the number value attached is so much lower than the salaries we see today.
Gabriel Landeskog has been able to contribute 326 points in 434 games since signing his big deal. The Swede has been everything and more for the Avalanche throughout his tenure with the club, as the leader and heartbeat of the franchise. With only one year remaining on his current deal, the 27-year-old forward will need a new contract at seasons end and should be looking to cash in after he outperformed the salary attached to his current deal.
One year remaining at $2,854,166
Cale Makar’s deal is the definition of a value contract in today’s NHL. The Calder Trophy winner is still playing on his entry-level deal and is already regarded as one of the best defensemen in the entire league. Although his average annual value is $2,854,166 (which includes performance bonuses) his cap hit is only a mere $880,833.
The former fourth-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has already accumulated 50 points in his first 57 games in the NHL to go along with 21 points in 25 postseason appearances. Although the sample size is small, that kind of scoring output warrants a drastic bump in salary, especially for a blueliner. Makar will play out this last season of his entry-level deal and Sakic will look to get his stud defenseman locked up long-term at another valuable number.
Three years remaining at $6.3 million
This deal is by far the best contract for the Avalanche organization, because of Mackinnon’s emergence as one of the premier players throughout the entirety of the league. This is another deal in which Sakic benefitted from —the lower salary cap at the time of signing turned into a bargain contract in today’s era. MacKinnon, like Landeskog, signed his seven-year extension coming out of his entry-level deal and the length of the deal has allowed the contract to favor the team rather than the player.
MacKinnon has taken his game to another level since winning the Calder Trophy in 2014, putting up 93 points in a pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season where he played 69 games and was a Hart Trophy finalist. The Halifax-native has become one of the best players in today’s game and is entering the prime of his career.
It is no secret to anyone (including MacKinnon) that he is grossly underpaid for the way he performs on the ice. He has openly discussed how he is willing to take less money in order to help the team bring in players to help win.
“We have guys that we wouldn’t (otherwise) be able to bring in. On my next deal, I’ll take less again. Because I want to win with this group.”Nathan MacKinnon
This is good news for the future of the Avalanche knowing their star player will be willing to take a pay cut to bring the team success, making him even more beloved by the team faithful.
Bang for Your Buck
These bargain contracts have allowed Sakic to go out and continue to improve the team. With the extra cap space, the Avalanche were able to bring in players such as Brandon Saad and Devon Toews while keeping the majority of last season’s roster intact. The importance of continuing to find good players at a value cost will only rise because of the potential repercussions the pandemic may have on the salary cap moving forward.