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INSIDE THE DEAL: How the Avalanche and Landeskog finally came together

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Gabe Landeskog

In the end, the answer kept coming back to yes. And no.

Yes: Gabe Landeskog has been a very good player for us the last 10 years.

No: We’ve never gone past the second round of the playoffs with him.

Yes: Landeskog has scored 20 or more goals in eight of his first 10 NHL seasons, all with the Avs.

No: But we’ve never gone past the second round of the playoffs with him..

Yes: Landeskog is the leader of the team, and it won’t be easy to replace him..

No: You’re right.

So, the yesses won out with the Colorado Avalanche hierarchy tonight. In the end, why, yes, giving Landeskog an eight-year, $56 million contract was worth it. On the day before he could have become an unrestricted free agent, Landeskog re-signed the long-term deal with the only team he’s ever played for.

“There just aren’t many power forwards like him,” a high-ranking member of the Avalanche staff told Colorado Hockey Now.

No, there aren’t. Landeskog has been a very consistent player since being drafted second overall in 2011 by the Avs. Yet, his tenure with the Avs has been pocked with some playoff disappointments. Five times, Landeskog’s Avs teams have made the playoffs since his rookie season of 2011-12, but five times they haven’t advanced past the second round – including a collapse against Vegas this season in which the Avs held a 2-0 series lead at one point.

That was something the Avs’ brass deliberated plenty about. How much should Landeskog be held responsible for this most recent playoff failure? Wasn’t he a minus-6 in the final three games, with only one point? Is he a little too laid-back as a captain? Even the mild-mannered Sakic, who captained the Avs for more than a decade, wondered if Landeskog lacked the fire necessary to achieve the ultimate goal in hockey.

But in the end, the answer kept coming back to “yes” on the essential question of: is he worth it to invest more in him, long-term? You need really good players just to get to the NHL playoffs, and that fact certainly wasn’t lost an Avs management, many of whom still remember the disastrous 2016-17 season. Since that 48-point campaign, the Avs have made the playoffs four straight seasons, and Landeskog has been a key cog in that surge of success.

The Avs’ decision, sources said, also was propelled along by the threat of potential outside suitors. Word started filtering back to Avs brass that some teams might offer him as much as $9 million per year. The highest the Avs wanted to go was $7 million on the AAV.

The Avs had an ace-in-the-hole over other teams, though: term. It was their ability to offer Landeskog an 8-year deal (provided it was agreed to by 10 p.m. mountain tonight) that separated themselves from potential suitors. Other teams could offer Landeskog as much or more money per year, but not as much term. Other teams would only be able to offer Landeskog up to seven years on a contract. Yeah, the Avs worried about another team (St. Louis was a primary one) making an outlandish AAV offer on July 28, but they hoped they could split the difference somewhat on that extra year other teams couldn’t offer.

Yes, came the answer from the Landeskog camp. A $7 million salary might have been $2 million less than we could have gotten on the open market, but the extra year of term is enough of a sweetener to get us to sign the deal.

Friends of Landeskog described him tonight as “ecstatic.” The contract comes with a full no-move clause, but only for the first four seasons.

From Sakic: “We are thrilled to have our captain signed to a long-term deal.  Gabe is the heart and soul of this team and an integral part of our organization both on the ice and in the community. He’s the consummate leader, a great teammate, and alongside (Nathan) MacKinnon and (Mikko) Rantanen, is part of what has been one of the NHL’s best lines over the past four seasons. We are excited to have Landy in an Avalanche sweater for many years to come.”

GRUBAUER UPDATE: The Avs still have not agreed to a new contract with No. 1 goalie Philipp Grubauer. He can become a UFA starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday. An NHL source told Colorado Hockey Now that the Avs are comfortable with their offer and are prepared either way. If Grubauer and the Avs can’t agree, the club might look to a deal for Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, or a free-agent signing of someone like Braden Holtby or Martin Jones. Pavel Francouz is expected to return healthy after missing a season, and the Avs believe he’ll provide solid netminding as well. … Brandon Saad is expected to hit the open market Wednesday. Saad, an NHL source said, is looking for at least $5 million per on his next deal, and the Avs don’t have much cap room left.

Bonus Voucher!

MORE FROM AVS PR ON LANDESKOG

DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the organization has signed captain Gabriel Landeskog to an eight-year contract that runs through the 2028-29 season.

Landeskog, 28, completed his 10th NHL season in 2020-21, his ninth as the Avalanche’s captain.  Only Joe Sakic (16 consecutive seasons, 17 overall) served as the franchise’s captain for a longer period of time.  Landeskog’s nine-year run as captain is tied for the fifth-longest streak among current NHL players, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (14 seasons), Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (13), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (12) and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf (11).  Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux is tied with Landeskog at nine seasons.

The Stockholm, Sweden, native captained the Avalanche to the Presidents’ Trophy and Honda West Division championship in 2020-21.  Landeskog, who was the youngest captain in NHL history when he assumed the role at 19 years, 286 days on Sept. 4, 2012, has led the Avalanche to four straight playoff berths, the third-longest streak of postseason appearances in franchise history.

The second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Landeskog has recorded 218 goals and 294 assists for 512 points in 687 career regular-season games.  He ranks sixth on the franchise’s all-time list in goals, seventh in games, eighth in points and 11th in assists.  His 38 game-winning goals are tied for sixth in franchise annals while his 61 power-play goals rank seventh.

Since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995, Landeskog’s 218 goals trail only Sakic (391) and Milan Hejduk (375) for the most in an Avalanche sweater.  He is fifth in points and ranks fourth in games played, power-play tallies and game-winning markers in Colorado history.

Only Nikita Kucherov has more goals (221) and points (547) among players from the 2011 draft class, while only Sean Couturier (692) has appeared in more games.

Landeskog finished second on the club in goals (20-tied) and third in points (52) during the shortened 2020-21 campaign.  It marked his eighth career 20-goal season, third most by an Avalanche player since the franchise relocated behind Hejduk and Sakic (both 11).  Landeskog led the club and tied for third in the NHL with eight game-winning goals.  He also paced the team in hits (81), power-play goals (9-tied) and faceoff percentage (56.6).  His 56.6 faceoff percentage ranked 10th in the NHL and was the highest of any winger in 2020-21.  He scored his 200th NHL goal on Jan. 15 vs. St. Louis and picked up his 500th NHL point on April 11 at Anaheim.  Landeskog added 13 points (4g/9a) in 10 playoff games, ranking third on the club.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound forward has appeared in 49 career Stanley Cup Playoff outings, totaling 45 points (16g/29a).  He led Colorado in points (seven) and goals (four) during the 2018 playoffs and set a playoff career high with 13 points (2g/11a) in 14 contests during the 2020 postseason.

Landeskog won the 2012 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.  He became the third Swedish-born player to win the Calder, following Peter Forsberg (1994-95 with Quebec) and Daniel Alfredsson (1995-96 with Ottawa), and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.  He finished tied for first among rookies with 52 points (22g/30a) while appearing in all 82 games that year.  Landeskog, who was awarded the rookie scoring title on the basis of more goals, ranked second among first-year players in goals and was third in assists, making him the only player to finish among the top three rookies in all three categories.  He was the second NHL rookie to ever surpass 20 goals and 200 hits in a season, joining Dion Phaneuf with Calgary in 2005-06.

Landeskog was selected to his first NHL All-Star Game in 2018-19, a year in which he set career highs in points (75), goals (34) and assists (41).  He became only the second left wing in Avalanche history to reach the 30-goal mark, joining Valeri Kamensky (38) in 1995-96.  He led the team and finished tied for second in the NHL with nine game-winning goals and ranked first in the league with 20 third-period tallies, a single-season Avalanche record.

In 2017-18, he captained the Avalanche to a 47-point turnaround, tied for the fourth highest in NHL history, while in 2013-14, he helped lead the Avs to a record-tying 52 wins and the franchise’s first division title since 2002-03.

Internationally, Landeskog represented Sweden at the 2014 Olympics, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, four IIHF World Championships (2012, 2013, 2017, 2019), the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.  He won a gold medal at the 2013 and 2017 IIHF World Championship and helped his country to the silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Prior to turning pro, Landeskog played two seasons with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.  He captained the Rangers in 2010-11, becoming the first European captain in the 48-year history of the franchise.  He was also the youngest player in 30 years to be named captain of the Rangers when he assumed the role at the age of 17 on Oct. 24, 2010.  Despite an ankle injury shortening his 2010-11 season to 53 games, Landeskog led Kitchener with 36 goals and finished third on the team with 66 points.

Landeskog was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team in 2009-10 after finishing third among league rookies with 46 points (24g/22a) in 61 games with Kitchener.  Before coming to North America, Landeskog debuted in the Swedish Elite League with Djurgarden at 16 years and 90 days in 2008-09, making him the youngest player in the club’s history.

Off the ice, Landeskog was Colorado’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership and humanitarian contribution) for six straight seasons from 2014-15 to 2019-20.  He serves as a group ambassador for “Friends,” a global anti-bullying effort based in Stockholm.  He became the face of unique initiative when he participated in the You Can Play Project, which featured a video of Landeskog that the Colorado High School Activities Association used as the kickoff for a statewide effort that puts diversity and inclusion messaging in every locker room and student activity in Colorado.  His many charitable efforts include joining the NHL and Avalanche in hosting a sled hockey exhibition match between the Warrior Avs (composed of military veterans) and the 2015 national champion Colorado Avalanche sled hockey team at Coors Field on Feb. 28, 2016.  He developed “#Landeskoging” T-shirts following the 2011-12 season in which proceeds of every shirt sold were donated to the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation.

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dp10

Good news! Having said that, I think the biggest piece of uncertainty about this contract is the fact that we don’t have any idea where the cap is moving in the next couple of years…if it increases by a 4 or 5 million, then re-signing MacKinnon in 2 years time shouldn’t be a big issue. Otherwise, the Avs will be pinned up against the cap for the foreseeable future. In terms of Landy’s future contribution to the team, I am actually less concerned. His greatest strength has always been his 2way play. If he’s the closest thing we have to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by dp10
JD16

I like the AAV. To me a fair price for Landy has always been 7.5m. Maybe not for this term though. I was thinking more along the lines of 5-6 years.

He's Dead Jim

This one is tough to judge. Price is OK, but the term is long, and there may be a lost opportunity here. He seems like a great person and high level player, but I also wonder if he has the fire to push the team over the top as a captain. He is a unique power forward, but it seems like the Avs might have been better off letting him walk and signing Saad and some other middle six wings that would offer them a more balanced look. They need more balanced ice time from the top 3 lines, and… Read more »

Matt Briggle

This whole ordeal was not good for the old blood pressure here. They seriously could have had this exact deal worked out several months ago. Anyway, I am not as concerned as others about the term, $7 mil per is a good deal now, and when the cap starts going back up it will probably be close to fair value by then. Either that or he’s on LTIR(etirement) by then. As for managing MacK’s next deal – first, you earmark EJ’s money to mostly just transfer to him, and second you pray that the flat cap ends a lot sooner… Read more »

hockeyhead

Agree, EJ’s contract rolls into Mack’s so he is at 12.3 mil per to start. Compher 3.5 mil comes off the books and rolls into the start of whatever Newhook and Byram, look like. If Newhook and Byram become super stars in the next two years, it will be a challenge if the cap stays flat. But if they have become superstars, we better have won at least one cup. There are number of contracts that expire next year too. Naz, Burky, Frankie, Sherwood, Macdermid, Nuke and Macdonald. So how Sakic uses that cap space to resign any of those… Read more »

Joshua Canfield

This was a good deal. Landeskog is not only a 20+ goal scorer, he’s a good two-way forward, he’s a leader and part of the MGM line that has dominated the last few years. I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about the Avs not able to get past the 2nd Round with Landeskog and Bednar, at the helm. Yes it was painful but let’s not forget they only won 22 games and were last in the league 4 seasons ago. Plus, there’s plenty of blame to go around in those last 4 games against against Vegas. Not just Bednar or… Read more »

ricoflashback

Extremely happy that Sakic and Landeskog found a way to do this deal. Some may say that the deal is too long and they might be right. But rumor had it that other teams were willing to go to an unheard of number at $9M a year. All it takes is one team to blow up your proverbial “Team Cap” (see the Seth Jones deal.) Speaking of the “Cap,” – so glad that ours is here to stay and will be a lifetime Avalanche player. That’s rare in sports today. So while I disagree with many of the moves Joe… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by ricoflashback
DK

I guess that means Grubauer will get something similar…If so, Goodbye Brandon Saad, I will miss your clutch play and stellar PO performance. You were a proven Cup winner with twice as many as Landy and Grubby combined. You were better than both Grubby and Landy against Vegas, yet you will get cast aside and almost nobody in the Avs fanbase will give a…….

I swear I must be the only Avalanche fan that is upset Saad will leave. But who knows…maybe Joe has an ace up his sleeve and we will still have him for a couple seasons more.

ricoflashback

No. I agree with you 100% on Saad. Tough, physical and from a winning background. He should be a priority for Sakic and the Avs but I have no idea on what Joe is thinking. Saad is only 28 and in the prime of his career. Sakic deal away Graves – just beginning the prime of his career with a great + / – +49 for his short three year NHL experience. He protects mini Samuel Girard and his bloated $5M contract for five years. He could have exposed Girard (good riddance, IMHO) and kept Donskoi for depth. Girard is… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by ricoflashback
ricoflashback

Correction – +59 for Graves three years in the NHL.

Yan Girard

Don’t forget to look with what players Graves played. Also, you didn’t say that the statistics doesn’t count in season? Then, don’t waste your time to mention them. 

Yan Girard

You have the right to not like Samuel Girard. However, when you talk, Samuel Girard doesn’t bring nothing good at a hockey team. You say that you wouldn’t protect Samuel Girard at expansion draft because that Seattle wouldn’t select him. Then, you protect Graves instead of Samuel Girard. In those circumstances, if you say true, the result would be that Donskoi is selected anyway by Seattle. Finally, you have always Makar, Toews, Girard and Graves as defensemen. You trade Samuel Girard thereafter at another team. But Samuel Girard, a defenseman that doesn’t bring nothing good at a hockey team with… Read more »

hockeyhead

I really like having Saad too. He just looks like a salary cap casualty. It is too bad.

hockeyhead

Really Glad Landy is an Av for the REST of his career. Most likely that is. I am not surprised that it went down to the wire given all the variables that were going on. Expansion draft, flat cap etc…. Glad the deal got done and that the Avs could offer the term.

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