Happy Wednesday to all. Let’s hope we get a nice advance Christmas present soon, with an announcement of an upcoming NHL season. With that formality out of the way, let’s get to another Avalanche Mailbag, starting with a question about the captain, Gabe Landeskog:
Thoughts on Landy Contract situation. What do you think will happen?
— David Morreale Jr (@KingDavid318) December 9, 2020
David, first off, thanks for the compliment on how young I look in that picture above. I’ve been working out a bit lately, so…well, on Landy’s contract, I think there’s no question that a flat cap and a Covid-19 shortened season hurts guys such as him a bit. But maybe not that much, because any extension he might sign before next off-season wouldn’t go into effect, cap-wise, until 2021-22. I would think fair market value for Landy would be something on the order of $7 million per. How many years the Avs would want to go might be a stickier question than the AAV number. I would think Landy’s got another five good years in him, but I probably wouldn’t go any longer than that. He’d be 33 after a five-year deal (34 after a five-year extension that wouldn’t kick in until 2021-22) and, well, that’s getting long in the tooth in today’s NHL.
So, I’m gonna go five years, $35 million for the captain. That’s a decent raise over what he’s making now, but it’s not a contract that would potentially cripple the Avs either way. I think there will be an extension at some point this season, but maybe not until NHL owners get a little more cost certainty vis a vis the virus, etc.
Likelihood of any fans in the stands this year?
— ProudAmerican_CO (@CoProudamerican) December 9, 2020
I’m gonna be the optimist here and say 100%, on at least some fans being in the stands at some point. Full buildings? Almost certainly not, not with full administration of vaccines still likely weeks/months away (in the good ole US of A anyway. I just read how Canada will start a mass vaccination program in the next two weeks, but as always, we lag behind because of our lumbering bureaucracies).
I don’t see why at least some fans – and they will probably pay a pretty penny to attend – won’t be allowed into buildings by, say, spring. But I’m not the CDC, so I probably should shut up now.
With the proposed 56-game season, I imagine there will be a shortened training camp and plenty of back-to-backs. What do the Avs need to do to stay healthy??
— Joey Suyeishi (@avrilanche) December 9, 2020
My man Joey, good question. Well, you obviously can never guarantee health from day to day. But obviously, one thing the Avs will need to do is not overwork one of their goalies too much. I suspect we’ll see more of a pure platoon situation between Grubauer and Frankie over a shortened schedule. The NHL wants to get everything with a 2020-21 season wrapped up by the Summer Olympics in July, so, yeah, there will be a lot of back-to-backs in the regular season. While most “starting” goalies like to play a lot, you can’t play your No. 1 guy four games a week.
No doubt, we’ll probably see expanded rosters and, because of that, we’ll probably see some regulars get more nights off occasionally. No doubt, we’d see someone like an Erik Johnson or an Ian Cole get a night off in favor of, say, a Conor Timmins or another depth D guy. Same with some of the older forwards, like a Kadri or a Bellemare or a Calvert and probably others too, like a Landeskog. I imagine Jared Bednar will have to cut down on some of his practice times/day with a shortened schedule too, to give his tired players more rest. But every team will be in the same boat.
In 25 years of being in Denver, “who’s the one that got away?” Whether by trade or free agency, salary cap, etc., who’s the one Av that if they stuck around could have helped bring a 3rd, or more, Cup(s) to Colorado?
— Spalmerelli (@palmerelli) December 9, 2020
Gotta go with Chris Drury here. That 2002 deal, to Calgary along with Stephane Yelle for Derek Morris, Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond, was obviously a bust. In an amazing GM career for Pierre Lacroix in Denver, that was his one real turkey of a trade. After Ray Bourque retired and the Avs lost in Game 7 to Detroit in 2002, Lacroix wanted to still have a “three-headed monster” on defense, and at that time, Derek Morris was considered one of the better young two-day D-men in the league. I understand Lacroix’s reasoning in making the deal. But losing Drury (and Yelle) was a killer. I mean, Drury was Mr. Clutch and Yelle was the third-line center on a Calgary club that went to Game 7 of the Cup Finals just two years later.
I also think the Avs would have had a better shot at winning the Cup in 1997 if they’d had Chris Simon on the ’96-97 team, but a contract dispute sent him to Washington (and the Caps made the Cup Finals a year, with Simon playing on the top line). The Avs had only Brent Severyn as an enforcer that season, and it cost them, even though Sevvy did the best he could. Simon truly scared opponents, though, and that mattered back then.
How long can NHL survive w/o fans in stands? Tv package not sustainable alone. Is ESPN next tv contract? Do you feel bad for fans in Quebec ?
— Rick Ponzo (@Ozmosis44) December 9, 2020
I think it’s a lead-pipe guarantee we’ll see ESPN and the NHL reunite, starting next season. It might be a split deal, with NBC, but I think both sides would like to do business with each other once again.
And, yes, I’ve always felt bad about Quebec losing their team. But they are a proud bunch of citizens there, and I think they’ll get a team back eventually.
What secondary player do you see having a breakout year?
What expected producer do you see slumping?
— JohnReed (@bcos4life) December 9, 2020
I’m gonna say J.T. Compher has something of a breakout year. I mean, we’re not talking a point-a-game here, but let’s say, in a 56-game season, I see something like 15-25 40 for J.T. That might be a tad ambitious, but I think he’s capable of it.
I’m not predicting a slump, but a guy like Andre Burakovsky is someone I probably worry about a little more than others. He’s a streaky scorer, though he played pretty consistently through the playoffs I thought. I expect him to start the season on a line with Kadri and Saad, and it might take a while for some chemistry to develop between those three. Then again, maybe not.
Do you think Kaut plays with the big club this season?
— Steve Neave (@nocoscubasteve) December 9, 2020
Only if the rosters are expanded, but yeah I think we’ll see him play at some point. He’s currently playing in Sweden for MODO, but he can come back to the NHL when the season starts up again. He wouldn’t crack the top 12 right now, but with expanded rosters and injuries that no doubt will happen at some point, I’m sure we’ll see Kaut play at least some games.
Did you get a reverse retro jersey yet?
— CP (@CPWyo) December 9, 2020
No. Can’t find one ANYWHERE and I’m a guy that has a connection or two in the industry. My 6-foot-6 16-year-old son, a jersey hound, really wants a men’s XXXL, but there are simply none to be found right now.
Congrats to all those who have theirs by now but here in the Dater household, we are Reverse Retro deprived.
Fan of all things Minny hockey here. @RussoHockey sent me your way a few years back, and I’ve stayed ever since. You got a good thing in Sampo Ranta (currently with the U of M). What do the Avs brass think of him?
— Rob Rydland (@robbyryd) December 9, 2020
Russo and I have been friends since 1995, when we both started covering the league together. He’s The Man.
Ranta had a really good game the other night for the Golden Gophers, and I know the Avs are high on him. The rich get richer…
Are the Avs physically tough enough going into the 2020-2021 (or just 2021) season? The already seemed soft last year, and now they lose Zadorov. They are lacking grit, nastiness, and an imposing force…those things are still critically important for a Cup.
— Nigel St. Hubbins 🇺🇸 (@Nigel_StHubbins) December 9, 2020
Nigel, it’s a good and fair question. I do think the Dallas Stars bullied the Avs too much in the playoffs and that it was a factor in the series. The Avs got hemmed in their own zone far too often, and just didn’t seem big or strong enough to deal with Dallas’ big forwards at times. I also think the injuries the Avs had – especially losing guys like Erik Johnson and Matt Calvert – hurt in that area.
I don’t think the Avs are a “soft” team, but I do think a lack of size is still something of a factor with this team. That said, I didn’t see Big Z scaring too many Stars out there in the second round. I think opponents are always on the lookout for guys like Big Z, but I don’t think Big Z was truly an intimidating physical force out there in regular situations. Sure, he could line up a guy for a big hit sometimes, but that only happened occasionally. Frankly, I think Big Z got outworked in front of the net too often and didn’t use his size and strength enough around the net in too many situations. So, I don’t necessarily worry about his loss from a “grit” standpoint. What I worry about with the Avs otherwise is still a lack of size up front, expecially on the bottom two lines, and somewhat still on the back end too.
What was it like breaking the news that Sakic and the Nordiques were on their way to the Rocky Mountains?
— Joel Saadvalanche James (@JoelJames15) December 9, 2020
It was unbelievable. Still can’t believe it happened.
Do you still own the purple pants?
— Get Loud (@KadriCanDunk) December 9, 2020
No. They were incinerated a long time ago. On orders of the significant other.