Avalanche keep Landeskog from free-agent market with eight-year deal

Avalanche keep Landeskog from free-agent market with eight-year deal
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Gabriel Landeskog, expected to be the biggest forward on the 2021 NHL free-agent market, is instead going nowhere. The Avalanche agreed to an eight-year contract with Landeskog, with reports indicating that the cap hit is a manageable $7M per season ($56M).

Landeskog re-signs with Avalanche for eight years, reported $7M cap hit

(Via Pierre LeBrun by way of Cap Friendly, Landeskog’s deal includes some clauses. In the first four seasons [2021-22 to 2024-25], Landeskog’s Avalanche deal includes a no-movement clause. From 2025-26 through 2028-29, it turns into a modified no-trade clause.)

Do note that the Avalanche confirmed it’s an eight-year deal for Landeskog. It’s possible that the cap hit and some of those clause details might be different.

For some time, it seemed like Landeskog and the Avalanche would part ways. Instead, things intensified with 2021 NHL Free Agency serving as a useful deadline. The Swedish winger served as Avs’ captain for most of his career.

Considering what Landeskog delivers on the ice for the Avalanche, a $7M cap hit is very team-friendly. That said, at 28, the term presents some serious risks.

Avalanche core pieces mostly locked down after Landeskog signing

That said, who else on the free-agent market could provide what Landeskog presents to the Avalanche? That reasonable $7M (reported) cap hit also improves the odds that Landeskog doesn’t push out other important Avalanche players, at least core pieces. That’s relevant, as Nathan MacKinnon‘s killer $6.3M cap hit goes away after two seasons.

With Cale Makar ($9M cap hit through 2026-27) and Mikko Rantanen ($9.25M AAV through 2024-25) also on the books, the Avalanche have some of their biggest contract situations settled now that Landeskog’s signed for eight years. If Samuel Girard doesn’t become trade bait down the line, you could consider him a borderline core member too. (Girard is locked up through 2026-27 with a nice $5M cap hit. He doesn’t have any trade protection until 2024-25 through 2026-27, when it’s a modified no-trade clause.)

[2021 NHL Free Agency tracker; PHT trade tracker]

About the only bits of uncertainty are:

  • Who will be Colorado’s top goalie? Pavel Francouz (31, $2M) has one year left, but missed all of last season. It’s unclear if the Avalanche will try to make another free-agency-averting deal with Philipp Grubauer. If not, what direction might they take in net?
  • Could some other promising young player force someone else from the Avs’ core? Not out of the question, considering the potential of Bowen Byram, Alex Newhook, and a few others.
  • Is it safe to assume they’ll lose some mid-tier pending UFAs, like Brandon Saad?
  • Now that things are mostly in place, can the Avalanche take that extra step and win a Stanley Cup?

After Landeskog’s $7M cap space, the Avalanche have about $12.38M in room, via Cap Friendly. That’s with 16 roster spots covered. While Newhook and others could provide cheap, quality depth players, they still need to answer that starting goalie riddle.

But keeping their captain? That’s a relief, and it certainly didn’t seem like a sure thing not that long ago.

The only clear losers: those of us who wanted to see how the Gabriel Landeskog free-agent sweepstakes might turn out.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.