The offseason has been slow, but with so many RFAs unsigned, that should change soon. For now, there were a few interesting things to happen in hockey this week, most notably the NHL’s decision to not opt-out of the current collective bargaining agreement. Also, potentially-huge extension and another big jersey announcement.
1. When Will the Preds Extend Josi?
With the 2019-20 season approaching, the Predators and captain Roman Josi should be nearing an agreement on an extension. Josi is entering the last year of a modest seven-year $28 million deal. Since signing that contract, Josi has quickly become one of the best defensemen in the NHL and the leader of the Predators. Over the last six seasons, Josi has scored 40 plus points and netted double-digit goals. He’s great on both ends of the ice and will command a big payday.
If Josi were to hit the open market today, he would command an AAV of approximately $8 million a year, perhaps more. That would put him in the same category of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, John Carlson, and Jacob Trouba, who all make between $8 million and $9 million.
I expect Josi to take a hometown discount so Nashville can have a bit of cap space to try and compete in the West. I bet Josi signs for an eight-year deal in between $7.5 million and $8 million. Paying Josi is obviously a priority after the Predators shipped P.K. Subban and his $9 million AAV to the Devils. Nashville recognized what a lot of fans and pundits did, that Josi was more valuable than Subban and they needed to dump his salary to be able to extend him. Extending Josi is a no-brainer for GM David Poile. After the deal is done, he can focus on his next big splash.
2. Markov’s Comeback
Andrei Markov is trying to make a comeback. Markov’s agent, Allan Walsh, was reported saying that Markov would play in the NHL this year. Markov has spent the last two seasons in the KHL after leaving the Canadiens after the 2016-17 season. If Markov were to return to the league, he would be one of the oldest players at 40-years-old.
I think Markov deserves another shot to play in the NHL. He was a staple on Montreal’s blue line since he broke in with the team during the 2000-01 season. He scored over 30 points 11 times and over 40 points seven times. He played well during his stint in the KHL, too, scoring 14 points in 49 games with Kazan last season. I know for a fact if he were to join the Red Wings he would be at least jump in front of Jonathan Ericsson, if not a few others too. I would love to see Markov return to the league for another season.
3. Kings Join the Throwback Train
We have more jersey news! The Kings decided to bring back one of their most famous throwbacks. The team wore this silver, white, and black edition during Wayne Gretzky’s stint with the team during the 1990s. They will wear them twice this season.
I freaking love it when teams have a top-notch throwback jersey they can break out. They get the fans excited. That is one of my few qualms with the Red Wings, that they don’t have a great throwback they can wear. The Kings don’t have that issue. I love these uniforms more than their purple and yellow threads they wore throughout the 1980s. I’m excited to see more teams, such as the Canucks, are deciding to rock throwbacks this year.
4. The League Sticks With the CBA
Last week, the league announced that it would not choose to opt-out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The deadline to opt out was September 1. If they had chosen to opt-out, the CBA would have ended in September of 2020, instead of September 2022. This means the league is happy with the CBA. However, the players can still opt out if they choose. If they do, there is potential for another lockout, which would take place in 2020 rather than in 2022.
We all hope that the two sides work this out. There has been a work stoppage each of the last three times a new CBA had to be ratified, all during Bettman’s tenure as commissioner. This CBA feels a bit different because a few major issues are being negotiated – most notably for Olympic participation. We know that the players want to continue going to the Olympics, as do the fans. But I feel like owners will become less and less tolerant of that. NHL players are paid more than ever before, and no owner will be okay with losing one of their best players to injury while playing in the Olympics. We all remember when John Tavares went down in the 2014 Olympics. If the players want to play in the Olympics, they will have to give up something big. Regardless, I’ll put my money on the players striking. I think there will be another lockout. Hopefully, the league can salvage part of the season and see them play at least 48 games like they did during the 1994-95 and 2012-13 seasons.
5. Barbashev Re-Signs with St. Louis
Ivan Barbashev and the St. Louis Blues have agreed on a two-year contract extension with an AAV of $1.475. The 23-year-old was a solid depth piece for the Blues last season as they went on to win the Stanley Cup. Barbashev scored 14 goals and added 12 assists in 80 regular-season games. He also scored 3 goals with 3 assists throughout the playoffs. Barbashev is a really-solid player for the Blues and played a lot of big minutes during the playoffs. The Blues now have filled each hole on their roster and are ready to compete for another Stanley Cup. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.