Well, I’m sure ESPN is thrilled. The NHL’s newest TV partner is unveiling the first-ever Seattle Kraken roster tonight, and it was supposed to be a dramatic event, preceded by more of the guessing game that has filled a thousand mock drafts by now. Instead, the Kraken’s selection list turned out to have more leaks than the oil filter to my old 1979 Ford Fairmont.
The Kraken had to submit their list of selections to the NHL this morning, and, well, someone with the league leaked like a sieve. Or, maybe they were hacked. Either way, right now there are reports circulating by reputable media outlets that show the Kraken’s full list, the players from each team that will be lost to Seattle. From the Avalanche, that player is reported to be Joonas Donskoi.
This would not especially be a surprise. Donskoi was going to be a top candidate to leave, because, well, he’s a very good player. Most of us expected either him or J.T. Compher to be selected, but it’s clear that Donskoi has the better career resume right now.
The only “good” thing in losing Donskoi is the Avs now have $3.9 million in new cap space. That now gives the Avs a little more than $26 million of room under the $81.5 hard cap. (OR IS IT $30 MILLION? One cap site, Cap Friendly, currently shows the Avs with $26 million in current cap space, with Donskoi still on it. Another, PuckPedia, has it at $22 million of current space, with Donskoi still on it. I’m thoroughly confused). UPDATE: I’m told the reason why Cap Friendly has the Avs with about $4 million more of cap space is because they aren’t including Logan O’Connor, Jacob MacDonald, Jonas Johansson or Alex Newhook on the “current” roster).
As of now, six “key” guys don’t have contracts for next season, and three of them are potential unrestricted free agents a week from today. Those UFAs are Gabe Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer and Brandon Saad. Three others (Cale Makar, Tyson Jost and Conor Timmins) are restricted free agents. The team already has decided to move on from guys such as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Patrik Nemeth. Matt Calvert is another UFA, and he underwent back surgery recently (his back became his biggest problem prior to his last stint on the injured list, not concussions). I don’t know if the Avs will offer Calvy another deal or not.
Twenty six million dollars to spend (or is it 30)? Man, how times have changed. The entire payroll of the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96 was about $16 million.
As far as the talks go with others: I believe there is at least dialogue still going on between the Avs and Landeskog and Grubauer. It doesn’t appear that anything happened between Landeskog and the Kraken, even though they had an exclusive 72-hour window to negotiate a deal with him.
I remain an optimist that Landy will be back with the Avs. Do I know for sure that he will? No.
If they don’t sign Landy, I have to believe Joe Sakic has something up his sleeve to bolster the roster, either via a free-agent signing or two of his own or a sizable trade. The NHL trade freeze that has been in effect the last few days ends Thursday at 11 a.m. mountain. Buckle up, kids, because I believe there will be some heavy trade activity once the freeze lifts.
As for Donskoi leaving: I think it’s a tough loss. He was the kind of guy who could play on any line and not embarrass himself. He played on the Avs’ first power play in the playoffs, the “wheel” guy in the middle. He scored 17 goals in 51 games and I thought he was pretty good in the playoffs. Pretty good, not great (five points in 10 games, all three of his goals in one game). His Corsi for percentage was a very good 55.6. He is a big guy who skates hard, checks hard and isn’t afraid to go to the net.
If the Avs lose Donskoi, Landeskog and Saad? They will have essentially lost half of their top six forwards from the playoffs and much of the regular season. Uh, that ain’t good, Bob.
Sakic better have a good backup plan, if Landy and Saad aren’t coming back (and Grubauer). But hey, I’m a “In Joe We Trust” kind of guy. So, let’s all take deep breaths and see what this next week brings.