Nathan MacKinnon signed an eight-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“It’s cool to have it over with,” MacKinnon said. “I thought a lot about it. I didn’t want to go into the season without a contract, I knew I would be asked about it all season, so I’m very happy.”
The 27-year-old center has one season left on a seven-year deal he signed with the Avalanche on July 8, 2016. After this season, he could have become an unrestricted free agent.
“Nathan is clearly one of the best players in the NHL, so a long-term extension was something we wanted to do before the season started,” said Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland. “He has that rare combination of speed and strength with a high level of competition that makes him a generation player. We are delighted that he will remain a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”
MacKinnon told reporters on Sept. 15 that he wanted the new contract signed before the Avalanche kicks off the season on Oct. 12 against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Ball Arena in Denver.
“I’d like to get it done, it’s no secret,” MacKinnon said the next day on the NHL North American Player Media Tour during an interview for the “NHL @TheRink” podcast. “I feel like we’re close and have nothing to say, but I think the goal is for both sides to get it done. That’s the most important thing, not to play it out or anything. If it has to, it will have to.” without distraction, because it is a lot.
“You have a lot on your mind. I think about it a lot, my future, but my goal is to be an ‘Av’ for life.”
MacKinnon tied Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane for the lead in goals (13) and had 24 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season to help the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. He was second to Colorado with 88 points (32 goals, 56 assists) in 65 regular-season games, but led it with 1.35 points per game.
“We kind of have a baseball field, well we believe we have a baseball field where… [MacKinnon’s contract is] go,” said Avalanche president Joe Sakic during the July 2022 NHL drawing. “We have hope at some point. … He has one more year, of course, but we hope to do something with him this summer, an extension.”
Since 2017-18, MacKinnon is third in the NHL with 442 points (167 goals, 275 assists) in 338 games, behind Oilers centers Connor McDavid (549) and Leon Draisaitl (479). He was a Hart Trophy Finalist as the NHL Most Valuable Player in three of those five seasons (2017-18, 2019-20, 2020-21).
“The deal I had at the time I signed was completely fair,” MacKinnon said. “No complaints at all, but you don’t want to be labeled as the most underpaid man for your entire career. But I see some numbers there of what I’m looking for, they’re not true, crazy numbers. But hopefully the deal that’s done people see as fair to both parties.”
Colorado has qualified for the postseason each of the past five seasons and six of the nine since MacKinnon was called up. They had missed the postseason in each of the previous three.
1 in the 2013 NHL Draft, MacKinnon scored 648 points (242 goals, 406 assists) in 638 regular season games and 93 points (41 goals, 52 assists) in 70 playoff games. His 1.33 points per game in the postseason ranks third in history, behind Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61) among those who have played at least 50 games.
MacKinnon joins defender Cale Makari (six years) and captain Gabriel Landeskog (eight years), each of whom signed contracts prior to last season, signed as part of the Avalanche core long-term.
“Our core is such an important part of our success and it’s led by Nate,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Monday. “His contract has been up for a while. He has earned it. We are very happy that he is back and happy that he has signed the big contract and will be part of it for a long time to come.”
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report