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Weekend Flurries: Camp opens and the Marner domino has fallen

Now let’s get Mikko signed

As the first day of training camp was coming to an end, some huge news dropped that is going to have major implications around the NHL - and with the Colorado Avalanche in particular.

Just before 7pm eastern time, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet dropped the bomb that the biggest market in the league was waiting for.

All summer, Marner and his representation group had been working the media in an attempt to inflate his value. His agent was arguing that Marner should get the same contract as Auston Matthews (5 years, $11.634m a year). It was an idea that was laughed off by most. During their media day on Thursday, the Toronto Maple Leafs began a PR push of their own. The team leaked contract offers from earlier in the summer and were successfully able to frame Marner as a player with unrealistic expectations and unreasonable negotiating tactics. The strategy seemed to work as negotiations picked up immediately, resulting in a long-term settlement between the two sides.

In the end, the team gave the 22-year old a contract above what he is worth but ultimately less than he wanted.

The contract carries an average annual value of $10.893 million giving Marner the seventh largest cap hit in the NHL - and third on his own team.

Marner’s contract is heavily front loaded and is paid out almost entirely in signing bonuses.

Yr 1: $700K base salary, $15.3M signing bonus

Yr 2: $700K & $14.3M SB

Yr 3: $750K & $9.608M SB

Yr 4: $750K & $7.25M SB

Yr 5: $750K & $7.25M SB

Yr 6: $750K, $7.25M SB

Marner was the big domino that the other RFAs were waiting to fall. The deal is big and one that will no doubt impact the negotiations with with Avalanche and their own star winger Mikko Rantanen. Now that the upper limit has been set, guys like Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk, Kyle Connor and Brayden Point now have a benchmark in their negotiations.

For Joe Sakic, the focus has been on a six or seven year contract for Rantanen. The Marner deal now gives a benchmark for what that looks like for a star right-winger. Mikko is a slight step down but his agent can definitely argue that he’s worth nearly as much as Marner. For those hoping to get Mikko signed on an AAV lower than $10m, that idea is likely out the window. Then again, Super Joe has proven the ability to work some serious magic over the last few years, so we shouldn’t rule anything out.

A source had confirmed a few days ago that Rantanen’s camp thought the two sides were close about a week ago only to have things go sideways due to some miscommunication. Things can change quickly but for now Mikko is still in Europe while his team prepares for the season - something that the team needs to remedy as quickly as possible.

Oh yeah, the Avs were on the ice for their first official practice yesterday and our man Jack was there for all the fun.

With a bunch of new faces in town, this year’s training camp is going to be more significant that the past few. Friday morning was the first chance we got to see (mostly) everyone skate together as well as how the coaching staff plans to use their new-found forward depth.

Former Washington Capital Andre Burakovsky was given the first opportunity to work with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog in Rantanen’s absence. In the second group, Coach Bednar put together a line of Tyson Jost, Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi. That is a top-6 forward group that is a drastic improvement over last year’s, even before Mikko is in the fold.

One notable part of the day was the fact that both Erik Johnson and Ian Cole were on the ice and skating at nearly full speed. They were separate from the rest of the team, but the fact that they were both on the ice is a good sign.

Also of note, both Colin Wilson and Val Nichushkin were absent from on-ice drills. Wilson is dealing with a shoulder injury - with no timetable for when he’ll get back on the ice - while Nichushkin is back in Russia working through some immigration issues.

Beyond the top-6 there were some very interesting player combinations during the first day of camp - not the least of which is that first defense pair in Group 1.

Group 1

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Andre Burakovsky

Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Colin Campbell

A.J. Greer - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Logan O’Connor

Igor Shvyrev - Josh Dickinson - Nick Henry

Travis Barron - Brandon Saigeon - Erik Condra

Samuel Girard - Cale Makar

Ryan Graves - Mark Barberio

Jacob MacDonald - Nicolas Meloche

Josh Anderson - Kevin Connauton

Sasha Larocque - Kevin Davis

Philipp Grubauer

Hunter Miska

Group 2

Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi

Matt Calvert - Vladislav Kamenev - Jayson Megna

Sheldon Dries - TJ Tynan - Martin Kaut

Ty Lewis - Shane Bowers - Michael Joly

Sasha Mutala - Luka Burzan - Alex Beaucage

Nikita Zadorov - Conor Timmins

Bowen Byram - Calle Rosen

Dan Renouf - Mark Alt

Anton Lindholm - Peter Tischke

Pavel Francouz

Adam Werner

With only a few days before the preseason opens we’ll have two sets of eyes (Jack and Scott) in the building for day 2 of camp. Maybe one of them can trick Joe into giving us a little update on the Mikko situation. He’s usually pretty open with volunteering information, right?