Amid rumors that Gabriel Landeskog and the Avalanche aren’t close when it comes to a new contract, the Avs captain admits that he’s “disappointed” it’s gotten this far. From what he told The Athletic’s Peter Baugh, it sounds like Landeskog is coming to grips with the possibility of leaving the Avalanche to hit the free-agent market.
“I can’t help but be honest with you that I’m a little bit disappointed that it’s gotten this far and it’s had to come to this point,” Landeskog said, via Baugh (sub required).
Landeskog, 28, told Baugh that “If it was up to me, I would have liked it to be done eight months ago, 10 months ago.”
Landeskog deserves a big raise, even if that means testing free-agent market
Honestly, it’s easy to see where both Landeskog and the Avalanche are coming from.
Much like with Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche showed serious foresight when they signed Landeskog to his soon-to-expire contract. At a bargain $5.57M AAV, Landeskog has been a steal for the Avalanche for seven seasons.
They might even kick themselves a bit for taking some time to surround Landeskog and MacKinnon with more talent.
Either way, Landeskog paid his dues. Now he deserves to get paid.
Theoretically, there might be a situation where the Avs could float a high value, low-term deal. But considering Landeskog’s rugged style, it’s reasonable that he’d seek some long-term security.
(Or maybe the impasse is about dollars and term?)
Landeskog would already be a leading free agent if you merely threw around intangibles like his leadership and physical style. Baugh’s piece chronicles Landeskog’s experience as a 19-year-old captain, and is also a startling reminder that the Avs struggled despite amassing quite a core (Landeskog, MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, a younger Paul Stastny).
As part of one of the best lines in hockey with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, Landeskog piled up the simpler numbers that will draw money, too.
Landeskog generated 20 goals and 52 points in 54 games this season, extending his streak of 20+ goals o four seasons. He’s reached the 20+ mark eight times now, quite a feat for someone who’s only 28. In 687 regular-season games, he’s generated 512 points (218G, 294 A).
And he’s done so with that trademark snarl.
There’s plenty of free-agent appeal to Landeskog, yet the Avalanche might need to drop their captain to complete their juggling act.
Landeskog just one of the Avalanche’s key pressing decisions
From both a short and long-term perspective, Colorado has a lot of situations to settle.
Matters the Avs need to settle this offseason
According to Cap Friendly, the Avalanche boast $25.5M in projected cap space. That room is misleading, however, when you realize it covers a mere 11 roster spots.
Could the Avalanche bring back Landeskog with a late contract? It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, but consider some other looming situations:
- The Seattle Kraken expansion draft presents some mysteries. That’s true even after Erik Johnson was willing to waive his NMC to make life easier for the Avs. (And maybe get a fresh start?)
Will the Kraken cost the Avalanche a defenseman like Ryan Graves? That’s one thing Colorado must find out.
- Cale Makar, 22, is a pending RFA. His next contract will be costly, and it’s an enormous consideration. It might be a situation that forces Landeskog out.
- The Avalanche also seek clarity in net. Philipp Grubauer, 29, is a pending UFA after receiving a (surprising) Vezina finalist nod. Will Colorado pay up for Grubauer, or will they hope to identify value elsewhere? Either way, they might believe it’s necessary to maintain flexibility.
- There are other Avalanche free agents to consider, even on the periphery. How much might RFA Tyson Jost cost? Would the Avs view Brandon Saad, 28, as someone easier to keep around than Landeskog?
Domino effects for MacKinnon and others
Perhaps term is the real stumbling block.
Nathan MacKinnon’s mega-bargain deal ($6.3M) remains intact, but only through 2022-23. While he might give the Avs a “let’s win” discount, that might only be a modest one. (Frankly, I’d understand if MacKinnon scolded his agents even more than he growled at Jared Bednar that one time.)
Between MacKinnon and Makar, the Avalanche could see their roster go from fairly deep to top-heavy. Such a thought doesn’t automatically force Landeskog out. It just makes it easier to understand why Colorado would want to keep its options open.
Consider some of the other emerging talents. Devon Toews already drew some under-the-radar Norris buzz. His $4.1M AAV immediately looks like a bargain, but it goes away after three seasons.
Again, Landeskog deserves the sort of big contract you’d expect from a player who brings so much to the table. Unfortunately, Landeskog might not be able to get that deal from the Avalanche, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he found it in free agency.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.