By Romi Bean

DENVER (CBS4/AP) –The Colorado Avalanche checked off the most important item on their offseason to-do list by signing Cale Makar to a six-year, 54 million dollar deal. The deal keeps Cale Makar in an Avs sweater through the 2026-27 season, and it couldn’t have worked out better for all parties.

Makar will count $9 million against the salary cap through the 2026-27 season.

“I’m definitely fortunate that we are able to get this done and very happy and couldn’t be more excited,” Makar said. “For both sides, we wanted something that would work and be realistic as well. For me, I know this is a team that has the potential to win and to win now. Obviously, you don’t want to sacrifice or get in the way of any of that. I think we came to a deal that works for both sides.”

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 04: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche plays against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 04, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

His deal comes on the heels of Chicago trading for and extending Seth Jones for $76 million over eight seasons and Dallas inking Miro Heiskanen to a $67.6 million, eight-year contract.

Makar was a point-a-game player last season, his second in the NHL, and the 22-year-old has 94 points in his first 101 regular-season games. He’s set to make $8 million next season, $9 million in the second year, then $11 million, $10.6 million, $8.7 million and $6.7 million as part of a contract that takes into account the expected rise of the salary cap.

“With a deal of this magnitude, both sides have to feel good about it. He’s a superstar. He’s one of the top defensemen in the league, if not the best. He’ll be up for the Norris Trophy year in and year out. So we’re very fortunate to have Cale here the next six years, hopefully helping us win a Stanley Cup,” Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager, Joe Sakic said.

For the 22-year-old defenseman, getting a long-term deal done with the Avalanche made perfect sense.

“I have so much faith in the organization that I think a longer term deal was something more suitable for me. I definitely have faith in what we’re building, where we are right now and where we will be in the future. That’s kind of the way I looked at it,” Makar said.

Now that Makar is signed, he’s hoping the Avalanche are able to bring back a few other key free agents, in particular team captain Gabriel Landeskog and netminder Philip Grubauer.

“We want all of us back, especially Landy and Grubi. They are such key pieces to our team. Those are definitely guys I’d love to see back. Hopefully the club can work something out with them,” Makar said.

Makar posted a message to Avalanche fans on his Instagram:

The Makar signing is the first of what could be many moves on the second day of the draft early in a busy offseason.

Buffalo trading forward Sam Reinhart is expected to be another. The Sabres dealt defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to Philadelphia on Friday for the No. 14 pick and 2023 second-rounder and selected Owen Power first.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)  

Romi Bean