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Don't Hassle the Hoff, Man! - The Trade Up Edition

It sucks pretty bad that the Avs are no longer playing this season. I was starting to believe there was some magic happening that could take them all the way. Some magic that would result in Makar getting his name on the Cup just after winning the Hobey Baker but prior to winning the Calder. But alas, it was not to be. San Jose had a little more *cough* magic *cough* that allowed them to move on. While I love the off season and the excitement that comes with all of the possibilities, I wasn't quite ready for the run to end. Here we are though.

At this point, everyone aside from some shock jock on the Fan (whatever station that is) thinks the Avs made serious strides this year and will be competitive for years to come. Free agents will undoubtedly be aware of that fact too, which makes Sakic's job of spending near the cap a lot easier. I'm still holding out hope for Panarin, Skinner, or Duchene, but I think a Hayes, Ferland, or [insert Islander here] is more likely. And quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. This team already has the stars in place. Now they just need guys who can balance things out and help the younger players reach their potential.

One of the reasons Jost may not have come around as quickly as many would have liked is that he wasn't put in the best position to succeed. Young talent is exciting, but it takes a special player to be able to drive the play during his first couple years in the league. Perhaps a good strategy is to balance out young talent with a good mix of talent and experience to help them succeed. With that in mind, let's talk free agency and the draft.

Free Agency

This team has cap space most other teams can only dream of, and Rantanen's new contract is not going to blow that up (neither will Barrie's, assuming he is extended). As such, the team 100% needs to be going after Panarin, Skinner, Duchene, and maybe even Karlsson. If they land the latter, Barrie would need to be traded right away, as there is no room for all of those puck movers on the back end, but that could be a very interesting scenario. So interesting that I'm staying away from it at this point. Maybe we'll revisit in the future.

I'm also not going to get greedy and say Sakic can convince Panarin to opt for a smaller market, Skinner to leave a proximity he seems to value, or Duchene to come back, even though I bet he could on the last one. Instead, we're skipping to the criminally underrated Kevin Hayes, who TSN has as the 17th best free agent in the linked article. This guy would be great for the Avs, as he adds skill, flexibility, and leadership, and does so at a reasonable cost. In my opinion, he should sign mere minutes after free agency starts, as that is the type of recruiting an attention he should get from this organization.

I'm giving him 5 years at $6.75 million AAV. Some may feel this is steep, but I think it's worth it to lock in a guy that can boost this team in a number of different ways and provide insurance against any delay in finding the 2C the team really needs.

I'm actually stopping here, because I think Panarin ends up in Florida, Duchene is Nashville bound, and Skinner stays put. It doesn't mean we're done adding though.

Draft Day - Getting Busy

We'll talk about this second, even though it will actually come first, as I have a sneaking suspicion that GMs have a pretty good idea of what free agent they'll land before draft day.

This is where it gets crazy and likely controversial. There is wide agreement that, after the top two picks, things level off until pick 16 or so. Personally, I think there is a drop at around 10 or 12. If there are ranging views on where that second tier ends, maybe it makes for an interesting trade environment for the lottery teams whose cities don't start with "New." We did one where the Avs trade back out of pick #4 and take Zegras. Here, let's assume they take Dach at #4 and then trade up for Zegras. That is a massive influx of talent, but at what cost?

While Edmonton might not be as desirable of a trade partner as in recent years past, they are a team that has multiple holes to fill. This means that they could consider trading back if, in additional to still getting a high pick, they can plug one of those holes. Would #16, Meloche, and a 5th be enough for the Avs to move up to the 8th pick? I don't know, but for fun let's say it is.

I'm not stopping here though. Remember that we're assuming Panarin goes to Florida. If Bobrovski does too, then that necessitates moving out some salary to make room. The odd man out for the Panthers is Hoffman. While his name carries some negative connotations, the guy scores a ton of goals and may not be terribly expensive to acquire. Florida got him and a 7th for a 2nd, 4th, and 5th, so they aren't too invested. If Sakic offers Kamenev, a 2nd, and a 3rd, then Florida gets the benefit of his service for a full season and then actually flips him for a profit. In return, the Avs get a guy that can put up 30 goals in exchange for a depth player and a couple picks that may or may not work out.

All in all, Sakic gives up a couple picks, Meloche, and Kamenev but walks away with Hoffman, Dach, Zegras, Hunter Jones using Ottawa's third, and a few more prospects. Pretty good haul if you ask me. Let's move onto the roster.

2019/2020

In addition to the above, the team needs to sign a number of RFAs. Specifically, Rantanen, Kerfoot, Compher, and Zadorov. These all get done without issue, and I'm assuming they choose to lock up Rantanen and Zadorov for more term than some may predict. I'm also assuming that Kaut and Francouz become regulars at the NHL level, and that all of Brassard, Wilson, Nemeth, Andrighetto, Bourque, and Varly are all moving on. It's a little bittersweet, as a lot of these guys made positive contributions, but the Avs are upgrading and cannot afford to use cap space or a roster spot on these guys any longer.

Here is the roster and the cap space. Note that Zegras is off to Boston University, and I'm assuming Dach gets another year in the WHL. This team suddenly has depth, so no need to rush anyone into the lineup.

Salary Cap 83,000,000
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 9,000,000 Left 2018/2019 2024/2025 UFA Extended 6 years
2 Jost C, LW, RW 885,833 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
2 Hoffman LW, RW 5,187,500 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA Acquired in trade
2 Hayes C, LW, RW 6,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA Signed as a free agent (5 years)
3 Kerfoot C, LW 3,200,000 Left 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Compher C, LW 2,650,000 Right 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years
4 Soderberg C, LW 4,750,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
4 Calvert LW, RW 2,850,000 Left 2018/2019 2020/2021 RFA
4 Nieto LW, RW 1,975,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
1 Girard LD 728,333 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,850,000 Left 2018/2019 2023/2024 UFA Extended 5 years
2 Barrie RD 5,500,000 Right 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
3 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
3 Makar RD 925,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
N/A Barberio LD 1,450,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Francouz G 1,500,000 N/A 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years

Total Cost 79,481,428
Dead Money 1,500,000
Cap Space 2,018,572

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hoffman Jost Hayes
Kaut Kerfoot Compher
Calvert Soderberg Nieto

Girard Johnson
Zadorov Barrie
Cole Makar

Grubauer
Francouz

2020/2021

This year, Jost, Hoffman, Girard, and Barrie get extensions. The three current Avs get their market value, as the intent is to keep them around for a long time. Hoffman is the weird one. The way the cap hit fluctuates for this team, it's best to keep him around for only a few years. I'd be willing to overpay to get him to accept a 3 year deal. As such, I have him at more than he's worth. Feel free to discuss the merits of this strategy, but I thought it was worth presenting as it's an outside the box approach that could pay dividends. One benefit of this approach is that Hoffman bridges the gap while Dach and Zegras are developing. Another benefit is that he could be a guy that garners interest from Seattle in the expansion draft. Maybe this doesn't work in the end, but I like to think it might.

Other than the above, Soderberg and Nieto move on and are replaced by Dach and Bowers. Since Dach was with the Eagles in this scenario, his contract slid, meaning the Avs get his services for three more years at his ELC salary. I'm assuming Zegras stays in Boston for another year. Who knows how it plays out, but it appears to have worked well for Makar. Again, there is depth, so no need to rush anyone.

Here is the salary and the cap space. Note that we're assuming a 4.25% annual cap increase.

Salary Cap 86,527,500
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 9,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,650,000 Left 2019/2020 2022/2023 UFA Extended 4 years
2 Hoffman LW, RW 8,500,000 Left 2019/2020 2022/2023 UFA Extended 3 years
2 Hayes C, LW, RW 6,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Dach C, LW 925,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA Replaces Soderberg
3 Kerfoot C, LW 3,200,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,650,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA Replaces Nieto
4 Calvert LW, RW 2,850,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
1 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2019/2020 2024/2025 UFA Extended 5 years
1 Makar RD 925,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,850,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,850,000 Right 2019/2020 2026/2027 UFA Extended 7 years
3 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
3 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 925,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA Replaces Barberio
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Francouz G 1,500,000 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA

Total Cost 85,779,762
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 747,738

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hoffman Jost Hayes
Kerfoot Dach Kaut
Bowers Compher Calvert

Girard Makar
Zadorov Barrie
Cole Johnson

Grubauer
Francouz

2021/2022

Before we get to the roster, let's deal with the expansion draft. It sucks that Makar will need to be protected, but it feels worth it. It was fun as hell watching him make his NHL debut in the playoffs, and I think the experience will benefit him in the long run. It makes things a bit more complicated in this context, but they'll just have to deal with it.

Here is what I'd like to think happens.

  • Johnson waives his NMC and is technically exposed
  • Forwards protected: MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Jost, Hayes, Hoffman, Compher
  • Defensemen protected: Makar, Girard, Barrie
  • Exempt list: Dach, Zegras, Kaut, Bowers, Timmins
  • Exposed: Kerfoot, Zadorov, Johnson, Francouz
  • Lost: Sakic works out a deal so that Kerfoot and Francouz go to Seattle in exchange for Johnson and Zadorov being off the table
I know not everyone likes this strategy, but I'm looking at it as subtracting from areas where replacements are already in place (Zegras in for Kerfoot and Jones in for Francouz).

Expansion draft aside, Landeskog, Makar, and Timmins will need extensions, and Cole and Calvert both move on. I'm also plugging in O'Connor for Calvert, but this could be anyone that plays a solid game and kills penalties.

Here is the roster and cap space.
Salary Cap 90,204,919
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 7,850,000 Left 2020/2021 2026/2027 UFA Extended 6 years
1 Rantanen RW 9,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Dach C, LW 925,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
2 Hoffman LW, RW 8,500,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,650,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Hayes C, LW, RW 6,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Zegras LW 950,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA Replaces Kerfoot
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,650,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 O'Connor RW 1,000,000 Right 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA Replaces Calvert
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
N/A ??? ??? 950,000 ??? 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
1 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
1 Makar RD 7,000,000 Right 2020/2021 2025/2026 UFA Extended 5 years
2 Zadorov LD 3,850,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,850,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Timmins RD 1,850,000 Right 2020/2021 2024/2025 UFA Extended 4 years
3 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 925,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Jones G 925,000 N/A 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA Replaces Francouz

Total Cost 87,058,333
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 3,146,586

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hoffman Dach Jost
Zegras Hayes Kaut
Bowers Compher O'Connor

Girard Makar
Zadorov Barrie
Timmins Johnson

Grubauer
Jones

2022/2023

Not much to do here other than point out how some of the veterans are moving down the depth chart a bit. Hayes and Hoffman are now on the third line, as Dach and Zegras establish themselves as legitimate top six forwards. I like this scenario because neither was rushed or felt pressure to be the 2C before they were ready (see Tyson Jost), which allows them to develop at a reasonable pace. This second line has a ton of skill and should take a lot of pressure off the RML line.

Kaut, Compher, Bowers, and Grubauer need new contracts, but I don't think any of them break the bank. Things are starting to get a little tight, but some relief is built in by design.

Here is the roster and cap space.

Salary Cap 94,038,628
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 7,850,000 Left 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 9,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Dach C, LW 925,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
2 Zegras LW 950,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,650,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Hayes C, LW, RW 6,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Hoffman LW, RW 8,500,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
3 Kaut LW, RW 2,800,000 Right 2021/2022 2025/2026 RFA Extended 4 years
4 Compher C, LW 2,800,000 Right 2021/2022 2024/2025 UFA Extended 3 years
4 Bowers C, LW 1,850,000 Left 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA Extended 3 years
4 O'Connor RW 1,000,000 Right 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA Extended/replaced
N/A ??? ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA Extended/replaced
1 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
1 Makar RD 6,750,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,850,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,850,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Timmins RD 1,850,000 Right 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
3 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 925,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
1 Grubauer G 7,000,000 N/A 2021/2022 2026/2027 UFA Extended 5 years
2 Jones G 925,000 N/A 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA

Total Cost 93,525,000
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 513,628

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Zegras Dach Jost
Hoffman Hayes Kaut
Bowers Compher O'Connor

Girard Makar
Zadorov Barrie
Timmins Johnson

Grubauer
Jones

2023/2024

Nate's time has come, and Hoffman's time has passed. Johnson is also due to move on or accept a pay cut. A lot of what the team chooses to do will be based on the performance of their young talent, specifically Dach, Zegras, and Jost. I may be underestimating what Dach will get here. If he and the others look more in line for top line pay, then things could get tricky. I'd start by not extending Johnson and going cheap on the bottom pairing, but there may be other cuts needed. For now though, everything works pretty easily thanks to the Hoffman contract expiring at an opportune time.

One last look.

Salary Cap 98,035,269
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C 11,800,000 Right 2022/2023 2030/2031 UFA Extended 8 years
1 Landeskog LW 7,850,000 Left 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 9,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Dach C, LW 4,250,000 Left 2022/2023 2026/2027 RFA Extended 4 years
3 Zegras LW 950,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,650,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Hayes C, LW, RW 6,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 ??? LW 1,000,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 UFA Replaces Hoffman
3 Kaut LW, RW 2,800,000 Right 2025/2026 2025/2026 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,800,000 Right 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 1,800,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 RFA
4 O'Connor RW 1,000,000 Right 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
N/A ??? ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2024/2025 2024/2025 RFA
N/A ??? ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2024/2025 2024/2025 RFA
1 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
1 Makar RD 6,750,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,850,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,850,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Timmins RD 1,850,000 Right 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
3 Johnson RD 3,650,000 Right 2022/2023 2024/2025 UFA Extended 2 years
N/A ??? ??? 925,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
1 Grubauer G 7,000,000 N/A 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
2 Jones G 1,250,000 N/A 2022/2023 2025/2026 RFA Extended 3 years

Total Cost 92,775,000
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 5,260,269

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Zegras Dach Jost
??? Hayes Kaut
Bowers Compher O'Connor

Girard Makar
Zadorov Barrie
Timmins Johnson

There you go. Bring on the draft baby!!!

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