Rather than having the mantle of one of the league’s best bargain deals, Nathan MacKinnon is now poised to become the highest-paid player in the game starting next season.
MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche have agreed on an eight-year extension worth $100.8 million with an AAV of $12.6 million, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports. It’s a deal that will see MacKinnon sign the richest contract in the salary cap era. His new deal sees him overtake Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid for first place with $100,000 with McDavid’s $12.5 million AAV.
The pact goes into effect at the start of the 2023-24 season, with the upcoming 2022-23 campaign being the last year of MacKinnon’s previous extension, a seven-year deal that earned him $6.3 million a year.
The contract situation of the three-time Hart Trophy finalist has long been a topic of conversation, given his level of production and the value of his deal. MacKinnon has averaged 1.31 points per game over the past five seasons.
The re-signing of MacKinnon for an extension adds to what has been an active off-season since winning the third Stanley Cup in franchise history. General manager Joe Sakic took over as president and assistant GM Chris MacFarland was promoted to GM. MacFarland has since signed Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year extension with a $6.125 million cap hit, while also re-signing Artturi Lehkonen to a five-year contract worth $4.5 million a year.
It was also an offseason in which the Avs lost second-line center Nazem Kadri and goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper. They tried to make up for those absences by signing Evan Rodrigues to a one-year deal with the expectation that he would compete with JT Compher and Alex Newhook for the second-rate pivotal role. Meanwhile, the Avs struck a trade with the New York Rangers to get goalkeeper Alexandar Georgiev, who will work alongside Pavel Francouz.
Getting a new deal for MacKinnon gives him more than the title of highest paid player of the game next season. It also reinforces the latest step the Avs have taken when it comes to keeping most of their core intact. Samuel Girard and Mikko Rantanen were the first steps in that plan and both signed renewals in 2019. Girard signed a seven-year contract worth $5 million each season, while Rantanen signed a six-year extension worth $9.25 million. . A year later, they traded for Devon Toews and signed him to a four-year contract worth $4.1 million a year.
In 2021, the front office captain Gabriel Landesog and eventual winner of the Norris Trophy 2022 Cale Makar has re-signed for extended extensions. Landeskog received an eight-year deal worth $7 million a year, while Makar was given a six-year deal that would earn him $9 million a year.
MacKinnon’s hefty contract means the Avalanche is expected to have $13,987 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. But there are other considerations they need to make in the coming season. Both Bowen Byram and Newhook, the team’s first roster in 2019, are in the final year of their entry-level contracts. Compher will be a pending unrestricted free agent, while Rodrigues, who signed a one-year contract this off-season, could also enter the open market. Veteran defenseman Erik Johnson will also have a UFA pending.