Journal Entry: Day 12 without hockey. Day 7 of my quarantine...
Morale is at an all-time low. I’m beginning to slowly wither away into nothingness. I’ve resorted to watching marble racing and competitive eating just to quench my thirst and desire for sports and competition. I’ve worn the same pair of sweats five out of seven days; I’ve completed roughly 73 pieces of my exotic frog/tropical rainforest 1,000-piece puzzle. Getting so close. And with the Olympics officially postponed to next year and the CHL cancelling its playoffs, including the Memorial Cup, and no signs of COVID-19’s grip loosening, it seems it’s an inevitability that the NHL and the AHL announce the season’s cancellation in the coming days/weeks.
Wake me up in October.
Do you think Martin Kaut will be up with the Avalanche next season?— Kayla (@kaylasteeletro1) March 23, 2020
Without a doubt in my mind.
Obviously, before the indefinite suspension of the season, Kaut had earned the trust of coach Bednar and the Avs’ front office. They allowed Kaut to play the full nine games, whether it was out of necessity or utility or not, and said they would not allow him to play that 10th game that would force the team to burn a year off his entry-level contract. That’s a positive sign that the team wants to get the most they can out of their 2018 first-round selection.
With guys like Colin Wilson, Matt Nieto and Vlad Namestnikov all set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, and a trio of RFAs in Tyson Jost, Val Nichushkin and Vlad Kamenev (who Kaut averaged over two minutes more of ice time per game than while playing two fewer games), it’s safe to assume the Kaut would be the easy choice to fill in for any of them on the third or fourth line full-time next year and on.
Say the Avalanche were to let all six of the aforementioned free agents walk, that’d save the team something like $10 million in combined cap space. Kaut would be the cheapest option of all of them at a reasonable rookie contract number of $894,167 per year. It’s a no-brainer — economically and performance-based — that Kaut gets a full-time spot next season. He’s certainly deserved it in my eyes.
With all the contracts up at the conclusion of this year, who do you think the avs sign/attempt to sign? What kinda deals do you seem them getting?— SaltySkog (@SaltySkog) March 24, 2020
Colin Wilson: Not re-signed
Matt Nieto: Not re-signed, or possibly a very cheap, fourth-liner one-year deal
Vlad Namestnikov: Not re-signed
Vlad Kamenev (RFA): Not re-signed
Val Nichushkin (RFA): Re-signed, two years, $2.5 million AAV
Tyson Jost (RFA): Won’t be re-signed, or, again, possibly a cheap one-year deal at $1.5 million
Andre Burakovsky (RFA): Re-signed at three years, $5 million AAV
Nikita Zadorov (RFA): Won’t be re-signed
Mark Barberio: Won’t be re-signed
Kevin Connauton: Won’t be re-signed
Ryan Graves (RFA): Re-signed, five years, $5 million
Michael Hutchinson: Not re-signed
Why is Big Z so often in the doghouse and is the relationship damaged beyond repair?— Aaron Sarfaty (@forseberg21) March 23, 2020
Speaking of players expected to not be re-signed for next year...
Big Z is so often in the doghouse because of his inconsistent performance from game to game. A player that volatile in his performance is a dangerous thing to put on the ice. Consistency is key in every sport and that’s something Zadorov has always struggled with.
Take for example, ice time. That’s a pretty good indicator of how a coach evaluates a player’s performance. The more ice time a player gets, the more effective their coach views them. The less ice time a player receives, the less effective a coach views them. Pretty basic correlation.
Conor Timmins once told me the organization, at least the Colorado Eagles, evaluate players in 15-game segments. Let’s do that with Z and his ice time.
Oct. 3 — Nov. 7: Zadorov was fourth in Avs defensemen minutes with an average of 17:55, behind Erik Johnson, Sam Girard and Cale Makar, respectively.
Nov. 16 — Dec. 18: Z remained in fourth in D-man minutes (20:58), nearly two-and-a-half minutes better than Ian Cole’s fifth-most minutes.
Dec. 19 — Jan. 20: Z slips into fifth with a 16:47 average
Feb. 1 — Feb. 29: Z falls to the fewest minutes among Avalanche defensemen with a 16:24 average.
March 2 — March 11: Last place again with 14:07. Even Kevin Connauton garnered more playing time than Zadorov did.
So as we can see from the data above, it’s right around the middle of January, or right around the All-Star break, where Big Z fell from Bednar’s grace. He has not recovered since then, and it’s players like Zadorov who are really wishing the season resumes again this year so they can have their one last chance to prove themselves and earn a contract extension. It might be too late for him.
Our very own Tom Hunter jumped in on the action this week:
Which Avs player has the cutest puppy?— Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie) March 23, 2020
For me, it’s got to be Tornade, Sam Girard’s goldendoodle.
2nd Place: Mikko Rantanen: Bobby
3rd Place: Philipp Grubauer: Leo
For a bonus, I’ll throw in some Colorado Eagles’ doggos too...