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Colorado Avalanche protected list released; What it means



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No, Gabe Landeskog will not be protected when the Seattle Kraken select their inaugural team on Wednesday. Neither will Joonas Donskoi or J.T. Compher. The Colorado Avalanche protected list was released on Sunday morning, and those were among the names not on the list of players exempt from being selected.

Here is the official protected list: MacKinnon, Rantanen, Burakovsky, Kadri, Nichushkin, Jost, O’Connor, Makar, Toews, Girard, Grubauer.

So, yes, technically the Kraken can now try to negotiate a contract exclusively with Landeskog until Wednesday, and if they come to an agreement, he would be their “Avs selection” in the draft. But here’s what we learned this morning:

The Kraken have a LOT of big-name players they can take in the draft, but does that mean they’d get them? In many cases, most certainly not – and Landeskog could be among them. For example, the Washington Capitals left superstar legend Alexander Ovechkin off its protected list today. So, the headline might be ALEXANDER OVECHKIN MIGHT BE A MEMBER OF THE SEATTLE KRAKEN!

No. Because he’s an unrestricted free agent and because everybody knows he’s eventually going to re-sign with the Capitals, they could afford to leave him unprotected, because they know he’s not going to sign with Seattle even if the Kraken actually picked him. This could well be why the Avs did the same thing with Landeskog.

Seattle will draft 30 players (Vegas is exempt from losing a player) and must have 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders – the other four players can be of any position of the Kraken’s choosing – and it must draft at least 20 players who are under contract for the 2021-22 season. Additionally, the combined salaries of those 30 players must be at least 60 percent of the league’s annual salary cap, which remains flat at $81.5 million for ’21-22. The 60 percent floor of that figure is $48.9 million.

So, let’s analyze the list some and discuss: First off, I think we’re all a bit shocked that the Avs protected Logan O’Connor over guys such as Joonas Donskoi and J.T. Compher. But maybe we shouldn’t be shocked. Because, as I alluded to in that piece last month about the possibility of the Avs exposing Landeskog, it’s clear that the Avs really wouldn’t mind dropping some salary off the cap to better be able to sign guys such as Landy.

Superstreak Bonus!

If the Avs lose Donskoi, yeah, there goes a good player. But also, there goes his $3.9 million cap hit for the next two years. More money to spend now on Landy, Makar, Grubauer and maybe even Brandon Saad. If Compher goes, his $3.5 million goes bye bye. Hey, if the Kraken take Erik Johnson, who would be available, there goes a $6 million cap hit.

I think the fact the Avs protected Grubauer is obviously a good sign he’ll return to the Avs. Why waste protecting him otherwise, as a UFA?

I would say it’s going to come down to either Donskoi or Compher as the player the Kraken take. It’s a nice feather in the cap to guys such as Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost and Valeri Nichushkin that they are all protected. Before last year, I would have bet there was no way Jost would be protected, but he had a good enough year to warrant inclusion. The Logan O’Connor protection not only is a great feather in his cap too, but it’s also an example of why the Avs want to shed some salary, by leaving some of the higher-priced guys exposed. O’Connor’s cap hit is only $725,000.

My biggest takeaway from all this: Have a “In Joe We Trust” attitude on this. He could be playing three-dimensional chess on the Landy thing. He’s trying to clear more cap room for his big hitters. That explains the list today, and it also explains the Ryan Graves trade the other day.

While I’m not at all overconfident Landeskog re-signs here, I still think he will. We’ll know for sure within the next 12 days.

Have a happy Sunday.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Joshua Canfield

AD, I have to admit I was really surprised by O’Connor being included as well. I think Donskoi was a good bottom-6 role-player since he came to Colorado in 2019. Yet, when it comes down to it, Sakic can probably find someone to replace him for much cheaper. Either that or bring in a prospect and move up Jost or Nichuschkin. As for Compher, I really think he needs a change of scenery. He just hasn’t been what I expected him to be. As for the Captain, I know he wants to finish his career here. There’s no reason that… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Joshua Canfield

I need some clarification: If Seattle picks an Avs player on Wednesday, does that mean that Landy is off limits until he hits free agency in earnest? Do the Kraken have to commit to an Avs player on Wednesday?


Yes, I believe they do. But they will negotiate with Landy first to determine if he would be willing to sign.

The PG

They have to take someone, so yes. If it’s not Landy, Avs have about a week to get him signed.


This feels horrible. It is going to be a long 12 days. In Joe and Landy we trust (nail bitter)!!!


Well if Joe doesn’t do a deal with Seattle, it’s obviously Donskoi. Just about half a million cap hit difference between the two and a miles difference as players. Donskoi first PP unit player and the scoring stats supporting him as well. This list is weird in the sense they let go of Graves. They could have easily protected him going the 8+1 protection route. All this smells a lot like some serious salary dumping. Even with protecting an unsigned Grubauer it seems they’re ok with just losing Francouz and his cap hit (or is he automatically protected because he… Read more »

Matt Briggle

Francouz is exempt, so the only other protection options were Johansson or Miska. Yes, it is a salary dump since they need the cap flexibility going forward in a flat cap, there are a lot of teams in the same situation.

The PG

I wouldn’t call it salary dumping, but cap management. Same thing in the end. Francouz wasn’t eligible due to the injury provision. Grubi has been making it clear he wants to stay in CO and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him signed no later than Friday. That goes for Landy too. SEA doesn’t risk it unless they know they can sign him. 8+1 would expose 2 more forwards including 2 of Burky, Kadri, and Jost. That’s just not necessary. It sucks to lose Gravy, but the Avs need cap space if they have any hope of keeping Landy, Grub,… Read more »


If they wanted to keep Graves then just expose LOC and Nichushkin.

Matt Briggle

So, my big question here is this – How exclusive is this negotiation window that Seattle has? By that I mean if Seattle does make him an offer can he come back to the Avs and say, “match or beat this and I’ll decline their offer?” or is he totally forbidden from speaking with the Avs during this period?

The PG

SEA can negotiate -exclusively- with any unprotected UFA starting today after the protection lists were issued. So by rule no, Landy can not go back to the Avs with whatever SEA offers.

SEA can also work trades with any NHL team, but all other teams are prevented from working trades with each other until the expansion draft is completed.


He can negotiate with Seattle and Colorado at this time. On the 28th that becomes the other 30 teams as well.

Matt Briggle

Thanks AD, I was hoping that was the case and hearing it from someone that knows.

John Mauss

But if the Avs negotiate and sign him, he is still unprotected, right?


For people having a hard time grasping the value of a LOC, it goes way beyond saving some money. Think about how much Matt Calvert meant to the AVS during critical games and situations. A younger cheaper, hopefully healthier version of Calvert is indispensable asset that is not easily replaceable. LOC will get heavy minutes on the 4th line AND the penalty kill unit.

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