First off, Joe Sakic is a disciple of the late, great Pierre Lacroix. He doesn’t leak stuff to the media and he hates it when others do. He’s also a guy I nicknamed “Quoteless Joe” way back in the day. Nicest guy ever, accountable to the media as a player but…yeah, not a lot of meat on them bones, quote-wise, when you were done chatting with him.
So, when he talked with us media schlubs last night, there certainly wasn’t much in the way of excitable quote material when it came to the situations regarding unsigned, potential unrestricted free agents Gabe Landeskog and Philipp Grubauer.
After discussing the six-year, $54 million new contract to franchise defenseman Cale Makar, it wasn’t long before Sakic was asked about the situation with the captain, Landeskog, and No. 1 goalie, Grubauer.
“We’re hopeful we can come to terms as well, have them sign with us as well. But I won’t comment on the negotiations. They’re still going on,” Sakic said.
That, at least on the surface, would seem like the good news coming out of that quote. The talks are still going on, he said.
But…Sakic also said this: “They’re both unrestricted free agents, so I’m assuming they’ll both look at where they are in the marketplace and they have to make that decision.”
That, at least to me, translates as: “Our offers probably aren’t going to change much from where they are now, four days before the start of free agency. They’ll have to decide if that’s good enough, or look elsewhere.”
Keep in mind: the Avs aren’t going to gain any room under the cap if they both leave. They don’t have contracts for next season. According to PuckPedia, the Avs have about $17.1 million in cap space right now, with five key guys from last season’s team unsigned: Landeskog, Grubauer, Brandon Saad, Tyson Jost and Conor Timmins. (I’m not including P.E. Bellemare here, because he’s leaving as a UFA for sure).
If Landeskog and Grubauer both want top-of-the-market money, I’ve got to believe that means they want $8 million and $6 million per year, respectively. That certainly doesn’t leave much left over for the other guys – though keep in mind this important proviso, that teams can spend to 10% over the cap in the offseason. They just have to get down to the cap by opening night.
The fact that Sakic said “they have to make that decision”, again, translates to me that he’s probably made his best offer by now. Maybe – maybe – he’ll come up a little. He did that before with Mikko Rantanen and his situation that got contentious for a while. But, generally, once Sakic makes up his mind on something, that’s that.
I’ve said this before, though, and say it again: Sakic darn well better have a good backup plan if he loses a quality power forward who has scored 20 or more goals in eight of his 10 years with the Avs, not to mention his captain, and his team’s No. 1 goalie.
That’s why I remain something of an optimist that they’ll both be back. But it certainly isn’t overconfidence. At all.
Sakic also was asked, if both players hit the open market on Wednesday, does that mean they’re gone?
“Not necessarily. We’ll see how that turns out. There’s been a lot of players that have tested the market and then come back to their teams. So, we’ll see where that goes. Time will tell,” he said.
Yes it will.