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DONE DEAL: Cale Makar signs 6-year, $54 million contract with Colorado Avalanche

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Cale Makar

This, hopefully, is the start of the fall of the contract dominoes. Cale Makar was one of the big-name players who had been unsigned entering Saturday, but not anymore, not after agreeing to a six-year, $54 million contract this morning with the burgundy and royal blue.

Makar thus becomes the second-highest-paid defenseman in Avs history (Rob Blake still holds that title, at nearly $9.3 million per for the 2001-02 Avs) and the second-highest-paid player on the Avs team currently – just behind Mikko Rantanen’s $9.25 million per.

“In just over two seasons, Cale has already established himself as one of the premier defensemen in the National Hockey League,” said Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic. “His ability to play in all situations and at both ends of the ice makes him truly unique and we are excited to have him anchor our blueline for years to come.”

Per our partners at PuckPedia, Makar’s contract breaks down like this:

And the Avs’ current cap situation, after the Makar signing, is thus:

Not a ton of cap space, in other words, but still money to get guys like Landeskog and Grubauer signed if the sides can just put their heads together and work it out. Keep in mind that another reputable cap site – CapFriendly – shows the Avs with a little more than $20 million right now, even after the Makar signing. But they’re not taking into account the contracts of guys such as Alex Newhook, Jacob MacDonald or Logan O’Connor – still calling them non-roster players, while PuckPedia has them on the roster and their salaries counting toward the cap.

Bonus Voucher!

Also keep in mind: NHL teams can go 10% over the cap in the off-season with signings, provided they somehow get down to the $81.5 million by opening night. So, maybe the Avs can put a signing of a Landeskog or a Grubauer on something of a credit card and hope to pay the balance off by opening night with a trade or two or some other creative accounting. Going 10% over, with that extra $8.15 million, would make signing those guys easier. Yeah, Sakic would need to find a way to shed that money somehow by Oct. 13.

I remain an optimist the Avs will sign Landeskog and Grubauer, though both sides (Avs and their agents) have their mouths zippered shut right now.

On Makar’s deal, as PuckPedia points out: this contract only takes him through one “UFA year.” Even though Makar had his first year of his entry-level deal used up with that playoff performance in 2019, it didn’t count toward UFA eligible-service, because he didn’t play 41 games in that span.

More from the Avs’ release on Makar:

Makar, 22, was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2020-21.  He recorded 44 points (8g/36a) in 44 games, the only NHL blueliner to average a point-per-game last year.  Makar joined Steve Duchesne (82 points in 82 contests with Quebec in 1992-93) as the only defensemen in franchise history to average a point-per-game in a single season (among qualified players).  The 5-foot-11, 187-pound rearguard was the first defenseman to average a point-per-contest at age 22 or younger since Brian Leetch with the New York Rangers in 1990-91 (1.10).

Makar was just the third defenseman in Avalanche/Nordiques history to be named to the NHL First All-Star Team, joining Sandis Ozolinsh in 1996-97 and Ray Bourque in 2000-01.  He was the first Colorado player to make the First All-Star Team since Joe Sakic in 2003-04.  Only four other defensemen in the last 50 years have made the NHL First All-Star Team before their 23rd birthday (as of the end of the regular season): Erik Karlsson (21 years old in 2011-12), Dion Phaneuf (22 in 2007-08), Ray Bourque (19 in 1979-80 and 21 in 1981-82) and Denis Potvin (21 in 1974-75 and 22 in 1975-76).

Makar’s 44 points overall tied for fifth among NHL defensemen and made him the first blueliner in franchise history to record 40-plus points in each of his first two campaigns.  He finished second on the Avalanche in average ice time (24:19) and ranked fourth in both plus/minus rating (+17) and hits (49).  He went on to register 10 points (2g/8a) in 10 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tied for fourth among NHL blueliners.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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ricoflashback

One down, two to go – Mr. Dater.

troian

First good news of the off-season is great news. Still waiting to see what the totality of Sakic’s moves results in as to the roster going into next season and any flexibility there forward retained. The moves suggested/debated here do not indicate overall roster improvement by addition (in fact, a less capable roster on paper), so AD your insight as to who among those retained has the ability to achieve enough improvement to enable Colorado to get to the next stage(s) – if that is possible (I remain skeptical at best, particularly where the defensive corps size/physicality/grit is concerned, as… Read more »

Yan Girard

No doubt, Makar is an elite player. But the sample of 101 games season in NHL is very short. In that sense, a bridge contract of 3-4 years that finishes before full autonomy would have been the best solution. Don’t forget that Avs is in window of opportunity to win Stanley Cup. Each dollar is important. The big contracts will reduce the chance to win. Do you Makar will be better the next year, in the next 2, 3 and 4 years? If Makar keeps only his actual performances, that will be very well. Makar is again a young player… Read more »

djs

6 years makes complete sense for his first big contract with what he’s accomplished so far. 3-4 years is an insult and not confidence inspiring. Never expected it to be less than 6.

One thing that does worry me a little is his durability. But the Avs have seemed cursed regarding injuries the past few years so maybe it’s paranoia. Hopefully Makar has developed his awareness a bit too after getting steamrolled by Marchand. He’s targeted more now for sure.

Last edited 1 month ago by djs
Yan Girard

Crosby, Kucherov, Stamkos Hedman, Point, Bergeron, Marchand have all been insulted by their bridge contract and the Stanley Cups.

Last edited 1 month ago by Yan Girard
djs

Crosby signed 5-year, 9 mil/year. Kucherov did indeed have the home-team discount. Maybe you have a point but times have changed a bit since those guys signed their contracts, especially after the pandemic. Maybe it makes more sense to compare Makar’s contract to other contracts being signed right now.

Heiskanen just signed an 8-year with the Stars for the same value. How does the Makar deal sound in comparison to that?

Last edited 1 month ago by djs
djs

Stamkos, Hedman and Bergeron all signed 5-year contracts not, “3-4 year”. And Bergeron signed that contract 15 years ago. Point had a break-out season last year and was not as obviously valuable from the outset. Point was, indeed, a difference-maker for the Lightning. The Avs would need someone who’s lesser valued to step up like that for a true comparison. Rather than having an amazing playoffs, Kadri got suspended again. Or maybe Burakovsky – Is he ever gonna amount to more? Girard also didn’t step up. Marchand is one of the best values in the league but an anomaly due… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by djs
Yan Girard

That will be difficult for the Avs in the next years. Mackinnon and Rantanen to resign, Byram could replace Toews in some years and has a high potential. Same thing for Justin Barron on the second pair with Girard. Alex Newhook as a high potential also. We will have to pay them. This means departing from several players.

Yan Girard

Kucherov accepted a bridge contract of 3 years at 4,7 millions before accepted 8 years at 9,5 millions. Stamkos accepted a bridge contract of 5 years at 7,5 millions before accepted 8 years at 8,5 millions. Brayden Point is actually on a bridge contract of 3 years at 6,75 millions. Hedman accepted a bridge contract of 5 years at 4 millions before accepted 8 years at 7,875 millions. In short, the best players of this team accepted less money by accepting a bridge contract and also by accepting less money with their actual contract. Comparatively, Marner, Matthew, Tavares, McDavid, Eichel,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Yan Girard
dp10

It might seem a bit premature, but I have no doubt that Makar is by far the best defender in an Avs jersey since Ray Bourque! MacKinnon and Makar are the 2 shining stars of this team and will be until they both retire. Ultimately, the only issue with his contract is perhaps the question of whether superstar players actually are the key to winning Stanley Cups or whether, because of the excruciating flat cap, they are perhaps a hinderance to assembling a deep and competitive roster. There are some indicators that support the latter argument. Of the last 5… Read more »

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