The Colorado Avalanche have to submit their “protected” list to the NHL and expansion Seattle Kraken by July 17. Sources tell me, that’s about three and a half weeks from now. It won’t be a shock if Gabe Landeskog is NOT on the protected list, and here’s why:
Landeskog can become an unrestricted free agent July 28. The Kraken will pick their team on July 21st.
It’s been an assumption all along that Landeskog would be one of the skaters protected by the Avs (they can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie. Teams usually only go the “eight skaters” route when they have four really good D-men they don’t want to lose).
But what if the Avs and Landeskog came to this kind of informal agreement., which would go something like this:
“Hey, Landy, let’s formally agree to a deal between July 21-28. That way, we can protect another guy we don’t want to lose, you still get a fat new deal with us and we’re a better team moving forward because you left yourself unprotected so we could keep that guy. Win-win!”
If you’re looking at most projected, protected lists right now, they have a 7-3-1 split. The conventional wisdom is that the protected skaters would be: Landeskog, Rantanen, MacKinnon, Burakovsky, Kadri, Nichushkin and Jost, with Toews, Makar and Girard the protected D-men and Grubauer the protected goalie.
That list leaves some good players exposed, guys such as Ryan Graves, J.T. Compher and Joonas Donskoi. But what if one of them could be protected, with no worry of losing Landeskog? Well, technically, that could be done – and it would be perfectly legal under the existing rules.
The risk for the Avs would be: Seattle would have exclusive rights to negotiate any deal it wanted with Landy, from July 18-21, and if they came to terms, he would be their selection on July 21. Do you really want to let Landy be wined and dined by someone like Kraken co-owner Jerry Bruckheimer, the famous Hollywood producer? Maybe Bruckheimer offers him a fat contract, plus a movie deal? What if Seattle were to offer a couple million more per year over what the Avs are prepared to pay Landy?
But if the Kraken already know that they have no shot at signing Landy, they wouldn’t take him. Sure, they could take him on July 21. But, if they couldn’t come to a contract agreement by the 28th, he would go unrestricted to the open market just like any other UFA. So, Seattle wouldn’t waste that Avs pick of theirs, in that case.
It’s up for debate as to who the Avs would/should protect, if they were to expose Landeskog. I would hate to lose Graves for nothing, but if you protect him, then you have to do the eight skaters route, thereby exposing another good forward(s). If you do the 7-3-1 split and Landy is exposed (but you know you won’t lose him), now you can protect a Donskoi or a Compher or even a Logan O’Connor.
Bottom line: the Avs need to get Landy signed by July 28, no matter what. You don’t want 31 other teams suddenly able to wine and dine him. You can maybe live with the risk of Seattle doing that for three days, especially if you already have a wink-wink agreement with him to sign between the expansion draft and UFA day.