When it comes to the salary cap period in the NHL, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon will be paid the most. A person familiar with the situation has revealed that MacKinnon, who turned 27 earlier this month, has signed an eight-year contract worth $100.8 million. The team has not publicly announced the details of the contract, so the source spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday under anonymity.
After the 2023–24 season, his new salary cap hit of $12.6 million will be the highest in the NHL, above Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million. The previous record for the biggest annual cap hit since the system was put in place in 2005 belonged to McDavid’s $100 million, eight-year agreement with the Edmonton Oilers inked in 2017.
MacKinnon, who is the highest-paid player in hockey, said, “Obviously it’s extremely nice, for sure.” “Yeah, I think the term was the most crucial part. Hopefully, there won’t be any more pandemics and the cap will go up much further. Having the opportunity to stay here for the duration of my career was always my number one priority, and I’m still holding out hope for a second contract.
Shea Weber’s $110 million, 14-year contract with Nashville, and Sidney Crosby’s $104.4 million, the 12-year pact with Pittsburgh are the only contracts in NHL history that are more lucrative than MacKinnon’s. Since then, the collective bargaining agreement has capped contracts at seven years for free agents and eight years for players re-signing with their original teams.
🚨 Nate MacKinnon signs an 8-year contract extension with the Avs at a $12.6 million AAV. MacKinnon’s extension surpasses Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million AAV for the highest in NHL history. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/FvZGF9xOvg
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 20, 2022
The start of training camp was all MacKinnon needed to commit to the deal. MacKinnon and the Avalanche have only had a brief offseason to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup.
General manager Chris MacFarland exclaimed, “We’re simply glad that it’s done before the start of training camp, and Nate can focus on hockey. His work is key to our success, and keeping him in prison for the next nine years is a vital part of our long-term and short-term strategies. It’s a momentous occasion.
The quick and deadly center scored 13 goals during the playoffs, good for a tie for the league lead. It was the second-highest total in a single postseason run for the team, behind only Hall of Famer Joe Sakic’s 18 in 1996. (when Colorado won its first Cup).
This demonstrates a great deal of loyalty, according to Sakic, who is currently the president of hockey operations for Colorado. Since “he is a franchise player and we are incredibly excited that he will remain here in Colorado for the rest of his career,” it was important to both Nathan and the team that the deal be finalized.
MacKinnon, the first overall choice in 2013, has made the Hart Trophy finals three times in the last five seasons (2017–18, 2018–19, 2020–21). The most productive player in his draft class, he has scored 242 goals and added 406 assists in his career.
The product of Halifax, Nova Scotia, made his NHL debut at the age of 18 years and 31 days, becoming the franchise’s youngest player to do so. He went on to win the Calder Trophy that season as the NHL’s outstanding rookie. When 2020 rolled around, he also received the Lady Byng Award for sportsmanship and chivalry. Furthermore, he has served as a captain for the Central Division in the previous three All-Star Games.
This upcoming season will mark the end of MacKinnon’s previous seven-year, $44.1 million contract with a cap hit of $6.3 million. Since the contract went into force, only four players have scored more than his 495 points in the regular season, and his 83 points in the playoffs are second-most in the NHL.
As a result, MacKinnon was labeled as the NHL’s lowest-paid player for a long time, a moniker he strongly disliked. His list of accomplishments now includes “Stanley Cup champion.” Along with defenseman Cale Makar, forward Mikko Rantanen, and captain Gabriel Landeskog, he forms the backbone of the Avalanche’s starting lineup.
MacKinnon’s new contract extends through 2031. Forward Valeri Nichushkin is signed with Colorado through 2030, while Landeskog is under contract until 2029, and playoff MVP Cale Makar is signed through 2027. MacFarland will continue working with Rantanen on a project next summer.
MacKinnon recently said in Henderson, Nevada, on a preseason player media tour, “Denver’s the only place I want to be, for sure.” McDavid thinks it’s “good for hockey, I guess, to keep lifting the bar” if he gets overtaken as the highest-paid player.
Still, “the salary cap system is crazy,” McDavid said. “The more money you make, the less money someone else can make.” A bit of a strange system, that. Some form of compromise is inevitable.