The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Devon Toews to a seven-year extension Friday. The contract carries an average annual value of $7,250,000. For the first two seasons, the contract carries a full no-movement clause. For the remainder of the contract, Toews will submit a 12-team no-trade list.
Toews initially joined the Colorado Avalanche in a 2020 trade that sent him over from the New York Islanders. The Islanders got Colorado’s second-round picks in 2021 and 2022. While the 2022 pick was used to select defenseman Calle Odelius, the 2021 pick was traded to Arizona as a sweetener for taking on the contract of Andrew Ladd.
Why does Toews deserve this contract?
Ever since he debuted with the Islanders in the 2018-19 season, Toews has played a remarkable two-way game. He was one of several quality pieces to the defense core of the Barry Trotz-led Islanders along with Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. In 2020, though, the Islanders had salary cap decisions to make. They were likely going to lose one of their key players. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello sealed Toews’ fate by trading for and extending Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
After acquiring his free agent rights, Colorado signed Devon Toews to a four-year contract that paid him $4.1 million per year. It was a steal of an extension even at the time of signing. Toews was already a superstar in the making with the Islanders even if the base stats were not eye-popping.
Though the Islanders went back to the conference final in 2021, they have failed to reach the same heights since. As for Colorado, Toews has become the partner in crime of top defenseman Cale Makar. The tandem is one of the best in the league on multiple fronts. Among all defense pairings that have played 1,000 minutes or more since Toews joined Colorado, he and Makar are third in 5v5 expected goals for percentage at 58.96%. Their combined 116 points last season was the second-most in the league for teams’ top two scoring defensemen, only trailing San Jose (Erik Karlsson and Matt Benning combined for 125 points).
As for the Islanders, it is a what-if that will sit in the back of Islanders fans’ minds for a while. While they managed to get Alexander Romanov via draft day trade last season, his results have not been in the top 1% of the league. Lamoriello was intent on keeping his fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck intact. He did this at the cost of one of the best defensemen in the league.
The Devon Toews extension will take him to 37 years old. It is a reminder of the faith the then-general manager, now President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic has in his defenseman. His contract is also a reminder of what could have been for New York. In a competitive Central Division, Colorado is still in its window of playoff contention despite Gabriel Landeskog’s indefinite absence. Devon Toews will help guide the Avalanche through April, May, and June.
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