As the offseason began, it felt as if it was only a matter of time before the Colorado Avalanche announced a new contract for their captain Gabriel Landeskog. He is their best left winger, the face of the franchise and a fixture in the Denver community. Nothing was certain, but Landeskog signing a deal to finish his career in an Avalanche jersey seemed to all but certain.
Now, just a matter of hours before the NHL free agent market opens, it feels as thought the two side are heading toward the unthinkable.
There have been a ton of numbers thrown around over the last few weeks as to what the player is asking for and what the team has been offering. One rumor that has gained a lot of traction is the speculation among some who cover the Avalanche that the team had made an offer of a seven year contract with an AAV of $7 million. After speaking to four different sources — both in and outside of Denver — we can confidently say this offer was never made. Landeskog has not turned down a $7M x 7 contract.
That rumor stems from a comparison many have made to the Anders Lee deal the Islanders signed a couple seasons ago. It’s likely a deal Landeskog’s agent is using as a comparison and one that the captain would almost certainly sign to stay in Colorado.
There was also speculation that Landeskog has been looking for a contract that would pay him upward of $9-10M a season. That’s not true either — at least not from the Avalanche. He might end up getting that from someone else if a bidding war erupts on the open market, but the captain is willing to go back to Colorado for a lot less.
On the flip side, this past weekend reports surfaced that the Avalanche sent Landeskog a “take it or leave it” offer with an AAV close to $5M, and while this number is closed to the ones that have been floating around, it appears to be untrue. There is no “final” offer from the team, and while it does sound like the long-term offers have been a lot lower than many would expect, they are higher than the rumored $5M AAV.
No one knows for sure what the two sides have been asking for and offering, but one thing is for certain: There are a lot of numbers being thrown around that are at best speculation, and at worst misinformation.
One thing that is certain is things are getting a lot more pessimistic on both sides as the deadline looms.
Once the free agency market opens on Wednesday, Landeskog will be able to speak with every team. That doesn’t eliminate the chance the he would return to Colorado, but it does mean he will no longer be able to sign an eight-year contract. If the Avalanche want to use the eighth year to lower the annual cap hit — the way Edmonton did with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — they need tog get the deal done before the market opens.
That leads most to believe that if the deal isn’t signed in the next two day, Landeskog will leave the Avalanche. If he does, there will be a number of suitors who show strong interest. Toronto, New York (both the Rangers and the Islanders), Los Angeles and St. Louis seem to be the ones most interested, but there are a number of others who would at least make a call to his agent.
Landeskog will be 29 years old this November, and as a result he is looking for a long-term deal that will bring him near the end of his NHL career. Unfortunately, that age is exactly why the Avalanche would be hesitant to give him a lot of money over the next seven or eight seasons.
Hopefully the urgency of getting a deal done before Wednesday allows for one more big push in these negotiations. That said, for the first time, those following the situation closely are starting to feel far more pessimistic than they were as recently as last week.
As we head toward the opening of the NHL’s free agency market, it’s hard to see Gabriel Landeskog in any jersey other than burgundy and blue, but it’s really starting to feel like that’s where it could be heading.