With the Colorado Avalanche still working on a contract for restricted free agent Mikko Rantanen, the team took care of some other business by locking up a piece of the young core. The Avalanche announced this morning that they have signed defenseman Samuel Girard to a seven-year contract extension. The 21-year old still has one more year left on his entry level contract, so this deal won’t kick in until the 2020-21 season.
The contract is worth $35m over the 7-year term resulting in an average annual value of $5m. That’s a very good dollar figure for a player who has the potential to be a first pairing defender for the Avs for the length of the contract.
This contract looks even better when you consider that earlier this summer, the Dallas Stars signed 25-year old LD Esa Lindell to a six year deal with an AAV of $5.8m. Girard is younger, better and has significantly more potential than Lindell - and he now makes nearly a million dollars less on a long term contract.
Originally drafted by the Nashville Predators, Girard joined the Avalanche organization early in the 2017-18 season as a key part of the Matt Duchene trade. Since then, the youngster has become an indispensable part of the blue line.
Playing alongside Erik Johnson during most of his time with the Avalanche, Girard has turned into one of the best young puck moving defenders in the game. With the dependable veteran by his side, Girard is given the freedom to move the puck in a way that is perfect for the system in Colorado. A team built on speed, the Avalanche rely heavily on a quick transition game and Girard is a key reason why.
With only four goals and 23 assists last season, his point totals are lower than some would expect from someone with Girard’s talent. That said, with the departure of Tyson Barrie this summer we should see the team rely on Girard in more offensive situations.
This contract is structured as a flat $5m a season with no signing bonus. The seven year term will buy out the first three years of Girard’s unrestricted free agency right and will lock him up until after his 29th birthday.