After changing the culture that resulted to a successful season, Joe Sakic has the challenge of sustaining success by making decisions that would build the 2014-2015 Avalanche team. The Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations either had to find replacements for Paul Stastny or overpay his star to have him stay.
There was no question Sakic had to plan ahead in case Stastny left. He understood the team can only pay so much in a salary cap league, and he has to plan for the future, so overpaying his center was easier said than done. That’s why there was speculation that Stastny was going to leave in the offseason.
It turned out that was the case as the Blues signed Stastny to a four-year, $28 million deal on Tuesday. No one was surprised when it happened. The former Avalanche center wanted to get paid for what he’s worth, and the Avalanche made this a formality when they acquired Canadiens forward Daniel Briere for P.A. Parenteau on Monday.
It’s a business in the world of the salary cap. Stastny wanted to have the best of both worlds by being paid like a top player in the league along with playing for a contender. Sakic has to focus on paying other guys such as Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon in the future. He is trying to pay Ryan O’Reilly before his player enters arbitration, so he was in a bind in paying the new Blues center. It’s easy to understand where both parties are coming from.
Sakic has to do his job in doing what’s best for the franchise now and the future. That’s the tough decisions he has to make. He did a good job in being resourceful to make up for Stastny’s loss by acquiring Briere and signing Jarome Iginla to a three-year, $16 million deal.
The new Av is not only a good scorer, but he has a knack of performing in the postseason by scoring 53 goals and having 63 assists in the 124 games he played in. This is something Sakic values being that he was a great postseason player in his day. He knows that it takes a special skill to score in the postseason, and that’s why he was interested in acquiring the Canadiens forward.
Briere is going to be valuable come postseason. He is the type of player a young team needs to win postseason series. Role players like him often are important in the postseason.
With Briere’s acquisition, it should make Stastny’s loss easy to deal with.
Signing Iginla was a good move by Sakic. He is coming off a 30-goal season for the Bruins, and he scored five postseason goals for the Bruins in the 12 postseason games he played in. He has scored 37 postseason goals in 81 postseason games in his career. He still plays at an elite level at the age of 37. He should be good in playing on a line with MacKinnon and Landeskog.
Not only did Sakic find adequate replacements for Stastny, but he was able to get one in a trade and signed a player at a decent price. That’s being smart and meticulous in executing these moves.
Also, Sakic passed the test when it comes to making emotional decisions that would be a detriment to the team. General managers tend to make that mistake in being sentimental by keeping their players, and it does not work.
Being a general manager means making unpopular decisions. There’s no question losing Stastny to a rival will bother Avalanche fans. It would have been nice to keep the University of Denver product forever. But remember something. This wasn’t Wayne Gretzky they were losing. This wasn’t a top 10 player they were losing.
If Stastny was this good, Sakic would have done everything to overpay him. He had to have a good idea about him to do what he did in letting his player go.
The decision to let the DU product go showed Sakic was decisive, and that’s why the Avalanche executive should be applauded.
The Avalanche will be good without Stastny now and in the future.
Tuesday was a good day for Super Joe.
It’s decisions like this that has the Avalanche in good standing under this administration.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter