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.”
Cake Makar announces his 6-year extension via Instagram:
“Hey Avs Fans, I couldn’t be more excited knowing I’ll be calling Denver home for at least the next six years. I will do everything in my power to bring a Stanley Cup to the best fans in the NHL.”#Avs
— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) July 24, 2021
Per our partners at PuckPedia, Makar’s contract breaks down like this:
Cale Makar's 6 year $9M Cap Hit deal w/ #GoAvsGo:
Yr 1 8M Base
Yr 2 9M Base
Yr 3 11M Base
Yr 4 10.6M Base
Yr 5 8.7M Base
Yr 6 5.7M Base + 1M Signing Bonus
Does not include trade protection
Covers 1 UFA Year
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 24, 2021
And the Avs’ current cap situation, after the Makar signing, is thus:
After signing Makar for 6* $9M, the #GoAvsGo have $17M of Cap Space with 18 Players on Projected Roster (10F/6D/2G).
RFA: Jost, Kamenev, Timmins
UFA: Landeskog, Saad, Bellemare, O'Brien, Nemeth, Grubauerhttps://t.co/Azpe41fAYI
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 24, 2021
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.
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.