We enter week two of NHL games and my fantasy hockey team looks better than ever. My takes this week have some variety. From players with damaged reputations, extensions, and major business deals, these takes have it all.
1. Evander Kane Suspended
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San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has been suspended for 21 games for violating the league’s COVID protocols. Kane was investigated by the league for submitting a fake vaccination card. NHL players are not required to be vaccinated, however, protocols are much more relaxed for vaccinated players.
Thankfully the league caught this. Had Kane joined the team, he could have put his teammates and the NHL season at risk. This was an incredibly dumb decision that will cost Kane a large chunk of money. I don’t understand why people don’t want to get vaccinated. Regardless, faking a vaccination card is dangerous and selfish.
This incident comes at the end of a horrible summer for Kane. The NHL is still investigating domestic assault claims by his estranged wife Anna Kane. Anna Kane also accused him of betting on NHL games that he played in. Kane was cleared of those allegations.
Kane made a huge difference around the NHL last season promoting social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a shame he made these decisions in the recent past damaging his reputation.
2. Brady Tkachuk Extended in Ottawa
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Brady Tkachuk has joined the long list of players to sign an extension in the last few months. The youngest Tkachuk and the worst franchise in Canada agreed on a seven-year deal worth $57.5 million, good for an $8.214 AAV.
The 22-year-old Tkachuk has wasted little time producing in his short NHL career. He’s scored at least 17 goals each season, topping out at 22 goals in his rookie season. Tkachuk is a member of a core of exciting young players in Ottawa, including Thomas Chabot, Tim Stützle, among others. The Senators also cleared a ton of bad contracts off the books and actually have a promising future.
This is quite a large sum of money for the younger Tkachuk. Brady’s older brother Matthew only got a $7 million AAV for a three-year bridge deal and his numbers were much better. It was necessary to lock up Brady now. It’s clear the Sens are hoping Brady becomes one of the better goal-scorers in the league and that his contract will be a bargain in a few seasons.
I’m not sure if Brady will ever become an $8 million player. I don’t doubt he’ll add a few All-Star Games appearances to his resume. Maybe even a 40-goal season. I am rooting for him.
3. Leafs are Most-Valuable NHL Franchise
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most valuable franchise in hockey according to Sportico. The team is worth $2 billion. That’s more than double the league average of $934 million.
While the Leafs have choked in the playoffs in recent seasons, they reside in hockey’s most rabid market. Toronto is the fourth-largest city by population in North America and the largest in Canada. The only other teams that are based in larger cities are the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Los Angeles Kings. Those cities don’t quite have the thirst for hockey as Toronto. That’s no surprise as we know the Canadian people love their hockey.
I like that the Maple Leafs are worth $2 billion. NHL teams aren’t valued as much as franchises in other sports, but the Leafs hold strong. While every NFL team is valued higher, the Leafs would be tied for the 12th most valuable team in the NBA with the Miami Heat. The Leafs’ valuation is good for hockey.
4. Charlie McAvoy Gets Paid
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Charlie McAvoy is now signed with the Boston Bruins through the next nine seasons. McAvoy and the Bs agreed to an eight-year extension with a whopping $9.5 million AAV. The 23-year-old is in the last year of a three-year extension he signed back in 2019. His AAV this year is $4.9 million.
McAvoy is an example of a player that signed a short extension post-ELC and parlayed it into a mega-deal. This deal will take him past his 32nd birthday. At that point, he’ll still have a chance to sign another modest contract, especially considering that defensemen age well.
McAvoy has been a major piece on the Bruins’ blue-line since he entered the league in 2017. He averages 0.52 PPG for his career and notably scored 12 points in 11 postseason games last year. He’s only getting better.
While McAvoy carries a high price tag, he’ll be well worth it. He’s only 23-years-old and will man the blue-line for most of the next decade. This deal will look like peanuts as the cap continues to increase. McAvoy will be underpaid when this deal expires.
5. Red Wings Ink New TV Deal
Recently, the Red Wings and local broadcaster Bally Sports Detroit inked a deal to continue their partnership. There were doubts the two sides would get the deal done as Olympia Entertainment, which owns the Red Wings, would attempt to create their own network.
It’s likely that Olympia commanded a large deal from Bally as they have all the leverage. Not only does Olympia own the Red Wings, but they also own the Detroit Tigers. That’s a minimum of 244 games they can broadcast between the two teams each season cycle. Detroit is a major sports town and most fans tune into each broadcast.
I know Fox Sports Detroit, as the network used to be named, was a staple in my house growing up. The channel was practically on permanently in my grandma’s house too. I’m happy the Wings are staying with Bally so I can continue to stream games using my parent’s cable package. It will be interesting to see if other teams attempt to launch their own networks and spurn Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) across the country. ■