The Avalanche are keeping one of the best defensemen in the league for what could be the biggest payday of his NHL career.
Devon Toews has signed a seven-year, $50.75 million extension with the Avalanche, with the contract beginning next summer and ending after the 2030-31 season. He will be 30 at the time the contract begins, and will be 37 when it expires, meaning he will likely spend the rest of his career with the Avs, if not the majority of it.
The contract carries a cap hit of $7.25 million and includes a full no-movement clause for the first two years of the deal, downgrading to a 12-team no-trade list for the remainder of the contract.
Avalanche Keep the Top Pairing Locked Up Long-Term
General manager Chris MacFarland has locked up his top two defensemen through at least 2027, when Cale Makar needs a new contract, and it’s a great signing to keep the Avs in playoff contention in the years to come.
Ever since the Avalanche acquired him from the New York Islanders, he recorded 139 points in 200 games with Colorado, averaging 25 minutes of ice time per game in his first three years with the team. He was vital to the team’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2022, with 15 points in 20 games while averaging nearly 26 minutes a night in 20 playoff games.
While the aging curve is no secret in sports, the Avalanche were well aware of it during the negotiations. They are an organization that trends towards analytics, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said they did not want to go more than five years on Toews, as it would go against the analytical approach. A long-term extension on a defenseman who is entering his 30s is always risky.
However, his numbers before coming over to Colorado were good, as he had a 96% projected wins above replacement rate, contributing on both the offensive and defensive ends with the Islanders. The age concern is understandable, and then again, the Avs were reluctant to give Gabriel Landeskog a seven-year contract. But as of now, one can argue there is little concern with his age, but not as much.
Why Age May Not Be a Concern for Toews
Entering the 2023-24 season, Toews has played in 315 career NHL games. He entered the NHL when he was 24, after three years with the NCAA’s Quinnipiac Bobcats and two and a half more with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers (now Bridgeport Islanders). By contrast, Sam Girard is 25, and has played 416 NHL games entering this season.
He got less wear and tear than a typical 29-year-old defenseman, considering he went through the NCAA. He’s also not a physical defenseman, as he relies more on his hockey IQ and his skating. Naturally, when he gets older, he will get slower, but will get smarter and adapt. He will still be in good shape even when he slows.
When he gets to the point that he isn’t the defenseman he is right now, he will still play a very large role, similar to how Ryan Suter is with the Dallas Stars. Plus, considering the final five years of the contract don’t have a full no-trade clause, this deal can get a lot better. With the cap ceiling only going up, this contract could be one of the best in the league, especially considering he would have got as high as $9 million on the open market.
This is a great contract all-around, and credit to MacFarland for not only signing Toews to a long-term extension but also bringing in key players like Ryan Johansen, Jonathan Drouin, Ross Colton, and Tomáš Tatar into the fold for the Avs.
Written by Alec Nava
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