Blake’s Takes: Additional Free Agency and League Notes

Sadly, there were no sexy storylines in the NHL last week. But, as I mentioned before, so much happened over the last two weeks with the opening of the free-agency window and the draft, there is plenty for me to write about.

This week, I’ll touch on some storylines that weren’t pressing enough to make into my columns over the last few weeks. Happy Monday!

1. Winter Classic and All-Star Game Postponed

This news was more of a when than an if. Because COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the 2020 hockey calendar, it will, unfortunately, affect the calendar for at least the next year. Many reports have indicated next season may not begin until New Years Day, if not later. So, it was only a matter of time until the NHL announced the postponement of the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Game.

The Winter Classic was slated for New Years Day and would feature the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis, MN.

I was actually pumped for this Winter Classic because Minnesota is a market deserving of this type of event. They arguably produce the best American hockey players and are one of the most die-hard hockey states. Target Field is a gorgeous park, too. I’ve been outside of it and it is a great spot for an event like this. But, I would NOT want to go to the game because sitting outside in Minnesota in the winter sounds like a death sentence.

The 2021 All-Star Weekend was scheduled for January 29th-30th at BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, home of the Florida Panthers. This would have been a nice event for Panthers fans. The six of them would really enjoy the NHL’s annual celebration in their home arena, even if that arena isn’t even in Miami.

I’ll keep you all posted when these events are rescheduled if they’re rescheduled at all.

2. Emrick Calls it Quits After 47 Years

Perhaps the most famous American voice in hockey, Mike “Doc” Emrick, the lead play-by-play broadcaster for “NHL on NBC” has decided to retire after 47 years of calling games. Emrick called some of the biggest games in NHL history. According to NHL.com, here is a snapshot of his resume.

Emrick worked the Stanley Cup Final 22 times, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, 14 NHL All-Star Games and 19 NHL Winter Classics and Stadium Series games, including the inaugural Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo on Jan. 1, 2008. Emrick estimated he’s called more than 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games.

That’s a lot of hockey games and a lot of important games. I’m sure hockey fans everywhere can think of a few of Emrick’s calls off the top of their heads. You don’t call that many games without being one of the best. Congrats to Emrick on a great career and a happy retirement.

It will be interesting to see who replaces him. I honestly have no idea who it could be. But, it’s exciting to think that the next crop of hockey’s most famous calls will be the voice of someone new.

3. Rangers Extend DeAngelo

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with defensemen Tony DeAngelo on a two-year extension with a $4.8 million AAV. DeAngelo was an RFA and the two sides were slated to go to arbitration if they could not agree to terms.

DeAngelo is coming off a breakout season. The 25-year-old set career highs in goals, assists, and points. He finished the season with 15 goals, 38 assists, and 53 points. He’s now the second-highest paid defensemen on the Rangers, with Jacob Trouba carrying an $8 million AAV.

I feel like I say this a lot, but this is a good deal for both teams. Good for the Rangers because DeAngelo is worth far more than $4.8 million a season. I’d think if he hit the open-market he could fetch somewhere in the $6 million to $7.5 million range. Alas, as an RFA, he didn’t have any leverage. While I don’t expect the Rangers to be competing for a Cup with DeAngelo playing on this deal, it’s still a good thing to lock up one of your best players for another two seasons.

For DeAngelo, this is more of a bridge deal. It’s a nice raise from the $1,263,333 he was earning before. When this deal ends, he’ll be a UFA and can test free agency if he wants. Or, after this season, he can opt to sign an extension with the Rangers. So, if he plays like he did last year this season, he can secure the bag quickly.

This is a win-win for both sides.

4. Gallagher to Stay in Montreal

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Six more years for Brendan Gallagher (@bgally.11) with the @CanadiensMTL! ✍️ #NHLFreeAgency

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Brendan Gallagher will stay in Montreal for another six years. Gallagher and the Habs agreed on a six-year extension with a $6.5 million AAV. This extension will kick-in after this season. Gallagher will be 35-years-old when he hits the open market again.

Gallagher has flown mostly under the radar throughout his eight-year career in Montreal. However, he’s posted two 30-goal seasons and two more 20-goal seasons. Last season, he scored 22 goals and added 21 assists in 59 games. Gallagher is also a plus 58 for his career.

Gallagher is a good player and I like the term for Montreal. However, this deal will make Gallagher the highest-paid forward on the Habs starting next season. $6.5 million for a guy that’s never cracked 55 points is a lot of money. You can argue that with more talent around him Gallagher’s numbers could be better. But, I’m hesitant to give this deal my stamp of approval. Still, Montreal had to lock Gallagher up long-term. If he can increase his point total by 10-15, this contract will pay for itself.

5. Stastny Shipped Back to Winnipeg

Paul Stastny is on his way back to Winnipeg. The 34-year-old was traded by the Las Vegas Golden Knights for Carl Dahlstrom and a fourth-round pick in 2022. Last season, Stastny scored 17 goals and added 21 assists for the Knights. He’s entering the last year of his contract with a $6.5 million AAV.

This is simply a cap dump for Vegas. Stastny is still a good player, but the Knights have plenty of good players to replace him with. It also allows them to acquire an asset for an expiring contract.

For Winnipeg, they didn’t have a lot of cap space to sign anyone, so Stastny should help. Although he will cost $6.5 million this year, there are no long-term financial implications. This move definitely makes Winnipeg better. How much better? Probably not too much. But, Stastny is a beloved veteran and I’m sure the Jets younger players will love to have him back in the dressing room. ■

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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