Instead of Nathan MacKinnon holding one of the best contracts in the league, he is now on course to become the highest paid player in the game starting next season.
MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche have agreed to an eight-year, $100.8 million extension that will result in an AAV of $12.6 million, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports. It’s a deal that will see MacKinnon sign the richest contract of the salary cap era. His new contract sees him pass Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid for the top spot by $100,000, with McDavid’s AAV standing at $12.5 million.
The pact will come into effect at the start of the 2023-24 season, with the upcoming 2022-23 campaign being the final year of MacKinnon’s previous extension, which was a seven-year contract that earned him $6.3 million. per 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 contract. MacKinnon has averaged 1.31 points per game over the past five seasons.
Re-signing MacKinnon for an extension adds to what has been an active offseason since winning the third Stanley Cup in franchise history. General Manager Joe Sakic took over as President and Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland was promoted to General Manager. MacFarland has since signed Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year extension carrying a cap of $6.125 million while re-signing Artturi Lehkonen to a five-year contract worth $4.5 million a year.
It was also an offseason that saw the Avs lose second-line center Nazem Kadri and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. They sought to make up for those absences by signing Evan Rodrigues to a one-year deal in hopes that he would compete with JT Compher and Alex Newhook for the second line center role. Meanwhile, the Avs have traded with the New York Rangers for goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, who will work in tandem with Pavel Francouz.
Getting MacKinnon to a new contract does more than give him the title of highest-paid player in the game next season. It also reinforces the last step the Avs took in terms of keeping most of their core intact. Samuel Girard and Mikko Rantanen were the first steps in this plan, with both signing extensions in 2019. Girard signed a seven-year contract worth $5 million per season while Rantanen signed a six-year extension years 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 re-signed captain Gabriel Landeskog and eventual 2022 Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar to long-term extensions. Landeskog was given an eight-year contract worth $7 million a year, while Makar was given a six-year deal that will earn him $9 million a year.
MacKinnon’s hefty contract means the Avalanche should have $13.987 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. But there are other considerations they need to make in the next season. Bowen Byram and Newhook, the team’s 2019 first-round picks, are in the final year of their entry-level contracts. Compher is expected to be an unrestricted free agent pending while Rodrigues, who signed a one-year contract this offseason, could also enter the open market. Veteran defender Erik Johnson will also be a UFA standby.