So the summer of Kovie has sadly turned into the summer of Meh for our beloved Avalanche. Or the summer of "building from within." Or the summer of trying to get up to the salary cap floor while maintaining outrageous ticket prices with virtually no marketing. Or, more succinctly, the summer of FAIL.
Among the hundred or so things bothering me about the Avalanche approach (word used in honor of Norm Jones) to this offseason is their continued reluctance to offer most players long-term contracts. They made an exception for Stats, due to the market at the time. And they have made a few mid-range blunders with Hannan and Liles coming to mind. But for the most part, they have a history of only locking up even key players for 2 or 3 years. But will this strategy work in the new NHL if they really want to compete for a Stanley Cup again someday?
The Red Wings started the shenanigans with the Zetterberg contract. Long-term deal, tapering off at the end, cap friendly allowing them to lock up their best two-way forward (and the one excluded from the very name of the worst blog in history) until he retires while also leaving them with cap room to build around him. Hossa received a similar deal with Chicago. And now we have Kovie. Let's look at his reported deal, shall we?
102M for 17 years. Kovalchuk is 27 years-old. In reality, he probably has around 10 more good years ahead of him. He may choose to stick around at year 11 for a "paltry" $3.5M, but he's as good as retired from the NHL before the 2021-2022 season. Some interesting things about the deal. First, I'm sure that nobody saw the first two years at $6M per coming. Very shrewd move by Lou to save up front in order to pay the big outlay later. Next, the 5 years at 11.5M per is huge. How is anyone going to turn down that kind of jack? But the big thing, of course, is that even with the huge monetary investment the Devils are making, the cap hit of the contract is only $6.0M per year. That's right, less than Paul Stastny's cap hit. And much less than many other superstars in the league. In a word, the Devils were creative. Much more creative than, well, sitting around and doing nothing. Or "building from within." And as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago have shown over the past few years, in the cap era, being "creative" wins Cups. Ask the Columbuses and Atlantas of the league what sitting around doing nothing does.