The Colorado Avalanche hadn’t expected forward Mikko Rantanen to be one of the final unsigned RFA’s when they hit the 2019 off-season this summer. The club had more cap flexibility than almost any other team heading into the signing period, and they had their other most expensive players already locked up long-term.
When September training camp rolled around, though, Joe Sakic and company found themselves staring down one of the final few restricted free agents who hadn’t managed to come to terms in time to start the pre-season. And they truly went down to the wire; it took until just five days before the start of the 2019-20 season for Rantanen to finally come to terms on his new deal.
Now, though, he’s officially back in the fold (and with a pretty fantastic deal, to boot). More on that here, for anyone who hasn’t caught up yet.
Interestingly enough, the fact that his deal ended up being cheaper than Mitch Marner’s — by a good margin, too — was touted as another sign that the Toronto Maple Leafs management brass just didn’t understand how to get the good contracts done. But as one report suggested, Rantanen’s ultimate decision ended up being one that showed that he just wanted to get back to playing:
Dubas is not a good negotiator and salary anchoring to teammates exists (and is dumb) but sometimes it just comes down to some players caring more about getting every dollar. pic.twitter.com/xaLd8dKM3o— James (@Account4hockey) September 30, 2019
The decision is a bit unsurprising. As one Finnish source suggested in a discussion earlier this summer: if Patrik Laine just wanted to get paid and Julius Honka just wants to get out of Dallas (explaining why he’s the final remaining RFA left without a deal anywhere right now), Rantanen was the one who just wanted to figure out a way to get back to playing with his teammates without getting washed over.
Of course, he wasn’t the only one who was excited about being back:
The Avalanche’s strategy of approaching the arrival of Rantanen on social media as nothing but excitement — putting the best foot forward for all involved — isn’t one seen too often by teams, but certainly seems like it could start to become the norm. And really, what’s not to like?
In other news:
For Avalanche prospects, things are starting to heat up. Check in with MHH’s Lauren Kelly on everything you need to know in the world of little Avs hockey, from juniors and college to those playing overseas. [Mile High Hockey]
Speaking of prospects: did you miss the roster turnover in Loveland, Colorado this summer? Catch up with who’s new and how they’ll help with an overview of what the AHL’s Eagles look like for the upcoming season. [MHH]
Oh, and then there’s this:
USCHO released their preseason top 20 rankings today. Notable teams that feature Avs prospects:— ♀️Lauren Kelly ♀️ (@laurkelly24) September 30, 2019
5. Cornell (Stienburg)
9. Notre Dame (Morrison/Leiverman/Clurman)
11. Boston College (Newhook/Helleson)
13. Penn State (Smirnov)
Putting aside the dubious Boston College ranking (11 seems high for a team that went 14-22-3 last season), it’s exciting to see Colorado with so many prospects in a position to succeed in the college hockey sphere.
Finally, in the world outside of Colorado:
For all the women’s hockey fans out there, the NWHL announced two big jersey design changes this year. Here’s a breakdown of what looks good (and what they probably could have done without changing). [The Ice Garden]
Also, the NHL announced a partnership with Green Day to promote a song specially licensed for games and promotions this season.
The announcement was met with the requisite bafflement from fans, given that the last time Green Day put out an album was in 2016 and it debuted with just 95,000 album-equivalent units. The last time they put out a radio single that received mainstream airplay was in 2009 (!) and American Idiot, the album that gave them their highest level of mainstream popular success, was released in 2004 (!!!) — when Jack Hughes was exactly three years old. It wasn’t the league’s first musical announcement that seemed to cater to their older fanbase, and it probably won’t be the last — but it got just as much hilarity in the comment section on social media as it does every time they make another ‘hip’ announcement.
Oh, and then there’s this:
Maybe the best part of the NHL-Green Day deal is that their new album is called "Father of All Motherfuckers” so it should be interesting to see how the league promotes that!— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 30, 2019
Never change, NHL! Never change.