Colorado Avalanche: Evaluating New Sam Girard Extension

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 12: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) looks on during the warmup of the NHL game between the Colorado Avalanches and the Montreal Canadiens on January 12, 2019, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 12: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) looks on during the warmup of the NHL game between the Colorado Avalanches and the Montreal Canadiens on January 12, 2019, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche extended young defenseman Sam Girard by seven years with a new contract .

The Colorado Avalanche continue to make moves despite the fact that it’s the last day of July. And when I say moves, I’m talking mooooooves. Out of nowhere they eliminated a worry we hadn’t even started to fret over yet.

The Avalanche extended defenseman Samuel Girard.

Girard has one year left on his entry-level contract with a cap hit of $728,333. When that contract expires next summer, his new deal will kick in, and it’s a doozy. Girard will be making $5 million a year for the next seven years.

That’s right. Mr. Joe Sakic has ensured that Girard will be with the organization until he’s 29 years old, which is when unrestricted free agency will kick in for the defenseman. He just turned 21 a couple months ago.

Girard, of course, came to the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene trade. At the time, he was a 19-year-old rookie with five games of NHL experience — a lottery ticket if ever there was one. However, he played the next 68 games for the Avs. He didn’t put up gigantic numbers — 3 goals and 17 assists — but not bad at all for a rookie.

Last season, Girard established himself even better as part of the team’s youthful core. He played all 82 regular season and nine playoff games. In the regular season, he hit 27 points (4 goals, 23 assists).

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Now, those aren’t sterling numbers. But a couple caveats. One, Girard was playing on the top pairing with Erik Johnson. That means he was seeing time against the toughest opponents in the NHL. He wasn’t getting cushy Tyson Barrie assignments. But then, as we’ve seen, Sam can defend better sans stick than Barrie could with a stick. (No offense to T-Brat, but it’s true.)

The second caveat: Girard was a 20-year-old defenseman. Most d-men don’t even enter the NHL until they’re 20 or 21 because it takes them longer to solidify their skills. Yet Girard was playing as a sophomore in, as I mentioned, some of the most challenging circumstances.

It’s obvious that our GM and his crew are seeing some of the less-obvious aspects of Girard’s game. For example, I’m semi-joking when I allude to the Sam-without-a-stick play, but it’s pretty impressive.

What I see here is a player who doesn’t panic and doesn’t give up. If he does either of those things, the St. Louis Blues have a breakaway. Instead, they’ve got a tiny then-rookie who is speedy enough to keep up with the charging opponent and has enough, well, guts to challenge him. And Girard has enough hockey sense to know how best to disrupt the play despite having no stick.

You can’t teach any of that, and Girard naturally has all of it.

And, though he doesn’t put up a lot of offensive numbers (yet), make no mistake that he’s a puck-moving defenseman. Those 23 assists came from somewhere, and a lot of those wheres are moving the puck out of the Colorado Avalanche zone and onto a scorer’s stick.

For example, here’s Girard doing what he does best — getting the puck to a scorer, who is Tyson Barrie in this case:

Just Barrie doing what he does best.

Girard has all the tricks to his skating — including La Tornade, after which his dog is named — and puck handling to make him very capable in the new style of defense. And by signing Girard to an extension, along with Cale Makar’s and Bo Byram’s contracts, GM Joe Sakic is being clear on what he wants the future of the Colorado Avalanche’s blueline to look like for years to come.

Next. Girard's 4 Goals from 2018-19. dark

Personally, I think that extension worth $5 million annually, is going to look downright frugal for Colorado in a couple years.

What do you think of the Sam Girard signing?