Blake’s Takes: Offseason Madness Continues

The second wave of offseason craziness was just as hectic as the first. Massive contracts were signed across the league. There were also a few blockbuster trades that involved the games’ best players.

In this week’s column, I’ll give my two cents on some of my favorite transactions from the last week or so. I’ll also talk about some of my favorite puck junk I acquired over the last week.

Happy Monday!

1. New Abdelkader Rookie

It’s not often I have actual puck junk to post, but this week I do! I’ve been trying to expand my rookie card collection over the last few weeks. It’s been tough as I’ve been spending more money now that Chicago has eased pandemic restrictions. That being said, I picked up my first hockey rookie card last week, Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings.

I know Abdelkader doesn’t play in the NHL anymore and was never that great of a player. However, he played at my alma mater Michigan State and scored the game-winning goal in the 2007 National Championship game. He also spent his entire NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings and went to the same high school as my dad. I wanted to add him to my collection. The card only ran me about $5, so it didn’t break the bank by any means.

I’ll keep you all updated as I add more rookie cards to my collection.

2. Ovechkin Re-Ups with Capitals

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by NHL (@nhl)

The best player in Washington Capitals history, Alexander Ovechkin, has signed an extension with the team which will run another five seasons. There was little doubt Ovechkin would re-sign with the Caps; the question was if he would return to the KHL earlier than expected to play for Dynamo Moscow. Those questions have now been put on hold for another five seasons. Ovechkin’s extension will expire when he’s 40-years-old. The deal has an AAV of $9.5 million.

I’m happy that Ovechkin will be sticking around the NHL for another five seasons and I’m happy he’ll stay put in Washington. There was little doubt of that. Ovechkin is quoted saying he’ll play for two teams, Moscow and Washington.

This contract is much larger than I expected. Yes, Ovechkin is still an elite player and one of the all-time greats. But, he’ll be getting paid $9.5 million each year for the next five years. He’s 35-years-old right now. I pray this deal doesn’t come back to bite Washington in the ass. However, cap-recapture rules aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ovi head back to Russia before this deal expires.

The big question is if Ovi will surpass Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals tally of 892. Ovechkin currently sits in sixth-place all-time with 730 goals. He’ll have to average 33 goals a season over the course of this contract to move ahead of Gretzky. That’s definitely possible. He Ovi can bounce back after last season and put together another one or two 50-goal seasons, he has a real chance.

3. Fleury Dealt to Chicago

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by NHL (@nhl)

Perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason’s infancy was that of Marc-Andre Fleury, who was dealt by the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the Chicago Blackhawks for AHLer Mikael Hakkarainen. Fleury is in the last year of his contract that carries a $7 million AAV. Fleury was awarded his first Vezina Trophy this past season but was shipped off to Chicago as the team chose to prioritize Robin Lehner.

This was an interesting trade, to say the least. First, it’s unfortunate that Fleury was shipped out of Vegas. He was the crown jewel of the expansion draft and led them all the way to the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. He revitalized his career in Vegas and won that Vezina Trophy. Fleury became the most important Vegas Golden Knight of all time in the franchise’s short four-year history.

It’s obvious Fleury was traded to elevate Lehner to be the bonafide number one starter. Lehner is only 30-years-old and is in the second year of a five-year contract with a $5 million AAV. It’s probable that Vegas was scared Fleury wouldn’t re-sign in the offseason for a number they’d be comfortable playing a 37-year-old goalie. Especially with Lehner in the fold. Now, they can bring in another goalie to open up cap space while ensuring they get something back for Fleury. This was a shrewd move by GM Kelly McCrimmon. It’s sad, but it makes sense.

There were rumors Fleury wouldn’t play for the Blackhawks and would ask for a trade or a buyout. Neither option came to fruition and Fleury publicly committed to playing in Chicago this coming season.

It’s going to be weird seeing Fleury in a ‘Hawks jersey. If anything, I’m happy I’ll have an easy time seeing him play in person this coming season.

4. Seattle Nabs Grubauer

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Seattle Kraken (@seattlekraken)

Everyone knew the Kraken had cap space, but few knew how they would use it. They made their first big splash by inking goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year deal with a $5.91 million AAV. The German goalie is coming off a career-best season with the Avalanche, going 30-9-1, with a 1.91 GAA, a .922 save%, and seven shutouts. Grubauer notably backed up Braden Holtby in 2018 when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

This is a big get for the Kraken. Outside of Vegas, expansion teams struggle to find their footing out the gate. Grubauer will provide quality in net that’s necessary for a young team. This is a fantastic signing for the Kraken, too. Not only has Grubauer quickly elevated to a top-tier goalie, but the Kraken also got him at a great value. $5.91 million. That makes Grubauer only the tenth highest-paid goalie this coming season.

I’m curious to know if Colorado offered him an extension, and if so, how much he was offered. Good goaltending his hard to find, and Grubauer is as close to a sure thing as they come. I would not be surprised if the Kraken put together a competitive team around Grubauer before the end of his term. 

5. Avs Solidify Their Future

The Avalanche made two massive moves over the last two weeks or so that will keep them among the favorites in the Western Conference. First, they extended phenom Cale Makar. Signing him to a six-year deal with a $9 million AAV. Then, they extended captain Gabriel Landeskog for eight years. His contract carries a $7 million AAV. $16 million is a lot for two players, but these two are worth it. This is the future we’re talking about.

First, let’s talk about the Makar extension.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Colorado Avalanche (@coloradoavalanche)

Makar quickly turned himself into a superstar. He’s only 22-years-old and already has one runner-up finish for the Norris Trophy under his belt. He’s scored 94 points in 101 career games, with another 31 points in 35 playoff games.

Makar is the future of this team and had to be re-signed at all costs. $9 million a year is no joke. In only his third full-season, next year Makar will be the sixth-highest paid defenseman, behind the likes of Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Roman Josi, Dougie Hamilton, and P.K. Subban. The difference between Makar and those guys is that he hasn’t yet reached his prime. He’ll likely earn every cent of this contract and will have a chance to cash in again at 28-years-old. Good for him.

How do you replace a guy like Landeskog? Thankfully, Colorado doesn’t have to.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Colorado Avalanche (@coloradoavalanche)

While Landeskog may not put up the type of numbers that his linemates Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen do, he’s incredibly important to this team. He’s a fantastic leader, does all the dirty work, and still puts up 50 points a season. The Avalanche couldn’t risk letting him go.

I know they haven’t won a Cup yet, but they needed to keep this core together. I’m sure they’ll win a Stanley Cup with this core. They just need a few more bites at the apple. ■

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.