Avalanche Journal: What could Jonathan Drouin’s next contract look like? (2024)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Let’s just get this out of the way up front: There are not a lot of players in recent NHL history who easily compare to Jonathan Drouin’s current situation.

With most pending unrestricted free agents, it’s not that difficult to find players with a similar statistical profile. Drouin is an anomaly. Add in the unique circ*mstances of his relationship with the Avalanche and the club’s uncertain salary cap situation, and it’s a tricky contract to predict.

We know there’s a desire for Drouin to stay in Denver from both the team and player. Will the Avs be able to offer enough to make that a reality? That’s not an easy question to answer.

“We’d love to have him back. I think he wants to be back,” Colorado general manager Chris MacFarland told The Denver Post at the NHL draft combine. “It just comes down to the salary cap with the challenges and unknowns of (Gabe Landeskog) and (Valeri Nichushkin).

“It’s something over the next 10 days to two weeks we’re going to have to try and put our heads together. But really, it’s math. You can’t expect the player to come back on a low-level deal after what he did. It’s a matter of, can you find the space, how do you find the space, and when can you find the space?”

Drouin had 19 goals and a career-high 53 points for the Avs this past season. He signed a one-year, $825,000 contract after a six-year tenure with his hometown Montreal Canadiens did not go the way he wanted.

The long-standing relationship with junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon was the original selling point, but Drouin became an integral part of the 2023-24 team. Coach Jared Bednar loved his work ethic and two-way play. He played well with and without MacKinnon on the ice.

Now, Drouin has rebuilt his value and could cash in with a longer, more lucrative contract.It’s not a question of how much the Avs might value his skill and two-way play, but there’s likely a limit to what they can offer unless someone else comes off the current roster.

How much would his track record before this season affect his market if he reaches July 1 without a new deal from the Avs? Drouin has a great pedigree and had intermittent NHL success before coming to Colorado. He is also one of the great success stories from the NHL-NHPA player assistance program, having found the help he needed, and the 2023-24 season was proof of concept of the type of NHL player he can be.

There are a lot of interesting wings who could reach the open market in July. Who are some of the guys who might be in a group with Drouin?

Player, teamAge*23-24 goals23-24 pts3-yr goals/GM3-yr points/GM23-24 cap hit
Jonathan Drouin, COL2819560.1580.614$825K
Teuvo Teravainen, CAR2925530.2670.701$5.4M
Anthony Mantha, VGK2923440.2420.528$5.7M
Anthony Duclair, TBL2824420.3410.652$3.0M
Daniel Sprong, DET2618430.2590.532$2.0M
David Perron, DET3517470.3020.711$4.75M

*As of Feb. 1

Again, there’s no perfect like-for-like comparison. Drouin’s previous four seasons were limited by injury or time away from the team.

Teuvo Teravainen is a similar player with a better recent track record. In a vacuum, other teams might prefer Teravainen to Drouin. But the Avs? That’s not as clear, because they know Drouin and he’s gained the trust of the most important people in the organization.

Anthony Mantha and Anthony Duclair are both players who haven’t met expectations at times in their careers, but like Drouin have been effective and productive at times as well. Perron has been more consistent but is older (and has the same agent as Drouin).

What about players from past seasons who have already signed new deals?

Player, teamAge*3-yr goals/GM3-yr points/GMYearsCap hit
Trevor Moore, LAK280.1890.5105$4.2M
Jaden Schwartz, SEA290.2470.5475$5.5M
Ivan Barbashev, VGK280.2270.5825$5.0M
Reilly Smith, VGK310.3170.6503$5.0M
Mason Marchment, DAL270.2190.6374$4.5M
Brandon Saad, STL290.3240.5715$4.5M
Nino Niederreiter, NSH300.2780.5402$4.0M
Michael Bunting, CAR280.3080.6873$4.5M
Evan Rodrigues, FLA300.2260.5163$3.0M

*As of Feb. 1

Drouin’s three-year averages make it hard to find great fits here. If we just use his one season with the Avs, he was at 0.241 goals per game and 0.671 points.

That puts him firmly in the middle of the group above. There are a lot of similar-looking contracts in that group as well. Mason Marchment is probably the most similar, in that he had one breakout season with Florida before he hit the open market and signed with Dallas.

Is there a contract of similar length and money out there for Drouin if he reaches the open market? Probably. Will the Avs be able to offer something similar? That’s hard to say right now.

As Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, told The Post, this is a situation that might call for some creativity.

“I think the organization places a great value on (Drouin). They recognize the fit and they respect the fit. It’s not about, ‘Well, he can go here for more money or there for more money.’ It’s about both sides coming to a fair deal. I think that there is a fair deal out there and we hope to get there.”

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Avalanche Journal: What could Jonathan Drouin’s next contract look like? (2024)


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