Blake’s Takes: No More Bran Muffins

The NHL offseason is officially on fire after all of the high-profile RFAs have signed. That’s not the only news around the league. The NHL announced a major partnership that will go against the grain. We also saw one of the bigger trades of the summer and a new captain was announced. Read on to find out why this week’s set of takes is about muffins.

1. Green Day Takes the NHL

Green Day live in 2017 in Mannheim, Germany. [Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons]
The NHL announced yesterday that they have entered a two-year partnership. with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Green Day. The Berkeley, CA natives new song, “Fire, Ready, Aim” will become the opening theme song for Wednesday Night Hockey and will be featured on broadcasts throughout the year. The league will also be able to use additional songs off Green Day’s soon to be released album, “Father of All” during future broadcasts. Lastly, it’s expected that the league will announce Green Day will headline the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.

The NHL is finally learning how to be culturally relevant. Green Day is the perfect band to partner with to try and engage with fans. Not only are they arguably the biggest rock band in the world, but they are one that hockey fans enjoy. I for one, was thrilled when I heard the news as I’m a huge Green Day fan (I’ve seen them live twice). The best part of this partnership is that it’s not a safe move by the league. Green Day remains true to their punk rock roots and won’t answer to the league’s family-friendly bs. I’m excited for them to provide some much-needed edge for the NHL.

2. Winnipeg Signs Their Stars

Patrick Laine [Photo Credit: NHL]
Winnipeg fans can sleep easy knowing that locked up their two, star RFAs for the next few seasons. Last week, the Jets announced they had extended winger, Patrik Laine, to a two-year deal worth $13.5 million. That’s good for a $6.75 million AAV. They also signed Kyle Connor to a seven-year extension worth $50 million, which breaks down to a $7.14 million AAV. Both players are in their early twenties and combined for 64 goals and 52 assists last season.

The Jets knocked both of these deals out of the park. Laine looks to be a generational goal scorer. He has scored 110 goals before his 22nd birthday. No one doubts his ability to put the puck in the back of the net. He is an enigma because he doesn’t offer much else to help his team win. He also disappears for long stretches. Last year, Laine scored 30 goals, but he never scored more than four goals in any month besides October, which he scored 18! That speaks to his wildly inconsistent play but also shows how he can dominate when he’s on.  The Jets weren’t ready to hand out big money to Laine when they’re not sure what they’re getting. This is a good deal for the Jets because if Laine performs similar to last year, he will earn his salary. If he doesn’t, the Jets are off the hook after two seasons. The best part of this deal for Winnipeg is that Laine will still be an RFA when the contract expires. So, they can sleep well at night knowing they can match any deal if they choose to.

For Laine, this isn’t a bad thing. $6 million-plus is nothing to joke about. Also, if he lights it up this season, he can negotiate an extension and lock down a big contract.

Connor’s contract forced the Jets to answer the age old question, do you pay the guy who creates the goals or the guy that scores them? The Jets chose to pay the goal creator rather than the goal scorer, but Connor can still fill the back of the net. Connor is a stud and if he takes his game to another level the Jets could be rejuvenated and compete for Stanley Cups in no time with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele on the roster.

The Jets knocked both of these contracts out of the park. They retained two of their star players and prevented them from holding out into the season. They also locked in one of their best players for seven years and provided themselves additional financial flexibility. A job well done in Winnipeg.

3. Rantanen Signs on the Dotted Line

Mikko Rantanen [Photo Credit: NHL]
Everyone in Denver can breathe a sigh of relief. The Avalanche and superstar forward Mikko Rantanen agreed on a new contract. Rantanen signed a six-year deal worth $55.5 million. That puts his AAV at a whopping $9.25 million. The 22-year-old, Finland native is coming off his best season as a pro where he posted career highs in goals, assists, and points with 31, 56, and 87 respectively. The Avs now have their two best players, and two of the best players in the NHL, Rantanen, and MacKinnon, locked down for a minimum four additional years together.

This is a lot of money but Rantanen is worth every penny. He has bona fide superstar and that’s being modest. I think his line with MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog is arguably the scariest in hockey and no doubt the most fun to watch. This deal isn’t as bad for the Avs because MacKinnon is signed to a bargain deal right now. The AAV between the two megastars sits at $15.55 million. I tried to count the combined AAV for each team’s top two players but there were so many duos that made more money than the Av’s duo that my point was made.  Heck, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make almost as much as those two. The Avs have Rantanen for six more years and that’s all that matters.

4. Faulk Shipped to the Cup Champs

[Photo Credit: Robert Judge]
If offseasons were muffins, this offseason would have been a boring, bland, bran muffin three weeks ago. It’s really only good to help you poop. We knew that the RFA bomb would drop soon, but we didn’t know it would be accompanied by the Hurricanes trading Justin Faulk. Now that the dust has settled, we’re all munching on nice, tasty, chocolate chip muffins, my favorite.

The Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues agreed on a deal that sent star defenseman, Justin Faulk to the Hurricanes and received Joel Edmundson and a prospect in return. After, the Blues also revealed that they signed Faulk to a seven-year extension worth $45.5 million and a $6.5 million AAV.

Faulk’s name had been swirling around the trade market for years now with his contract ending after this season. I don’t think anyone had predicted that the Blues would be the ones to trade for him. This is a fantastic deal for the Blues. Faulk is a star. He is 27-years-old and is coming off a stellar postseason run where he led the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring eight points in 15 games. The extension he signed with St. Louis is a steal, too. Faulk is arguably worth more than Jacob Trouba and Ivan Provorov, both of which will make more than him when his new deal kicks in. This was also a must for the Blues because captain Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester will both be free agents after this year. Signing Faulk gives them a bit of security if both guys don’t come back.

For the Hurricanes, this is unfortunate. Obviously they knew they had to trade Faulk if he wasn’t planning on sticking around. It’s hard to get a lot in return in that scenario, especially when Faulk only had one year left on his deal. Still, the Hurricanes are an up and coming team and trading their best defenseman does not help their cause.

5. Staal Named Captain

[Image Credit: Carolina Hurricanes]
On Sunday, the Hurricanes named their newest captain. Jordan Staal will be the second in his family to Captain the Raleigh, NC based franchise, as his brother captained the team from 2009-10 to 2015-16. Staal replaces Justin Williams, who captained the team for one season. The year before last, the Hurricanes actually had two players wear the “C,” when Staal and recently traded Faulk split captaincy duties.

I’m super happy for Staal. He has overcome a lot during his career both on and off the ice. Still, he has remained one of the better players in the league since he broke in with Pittsburgh in 2006. He was limited to 50 games last year, so hopefully he can play the full 82 and help Carolina get back to the Eastern Conference Finals. ■

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.

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