Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche are inching towards a long-term contract extension, and it could see the 27-year-old become the NHL’s highest paid player.
MacKinnon is keen to strike an agreement before the start of the new season and told reporters at the NHL’s annual preseason media tour that he will pause the negotiations if a deal has not been reached by the time Colorado’s Stanley Cup defence begins on 12 October.
Nathan MacKinnon closing in on lucrative contraction extension
“We’re pretty close,” MacKinnon said on Thursday [15 September]. “I’d prefer it to be done. … It gets emotional. You feel like it’s personal sometimes. I’d like to get it done just so it’s not a distraction at all.”
MacKinnon’s current deal expires after this season, with Pat Brisson – his agent – confident that a renewal will be finalised soon. When the Canadian’s new contract is inked, it could overtake Connor McDavid’s eight-year, $100 million pact as the most lucrative signed in the salary cap era.
But McDavid, whose $12.5 million cap hit is the highest in the league, isn’t phased by the possibility of being vaulted in the salary stakes.
“It’d be good for hockey, I guess, to keep raising the bar,” the Edmonton Oiler said. “But ultimately the salary cap system’s a weird system where the more money you make, the less money someone else can make. It’s kind of a weird system that way.”
MacKinnon’s current cap hit of $6.3 million makes him the most underpaid player in the NHL.
He is a three-time Hart Trophy finalist, was one of Colorado’s best players during their run to the Stanley Cup with 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 20 appearances, and won the Calder Trophy in his rookie year.
The former Halifax Moosehead signed a ‘team friendly’ contract after his entry-level deal expired, allowing the Avalanche to lock Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, and Artturi Lehkonen into the organisation long-term.
“It’s not what you want, that’s for sure,” he said of his underpaid status. “It’s not the title you’re looking for. I’m glad we won a Cup, though.”
MacKinnon, who has exceeded the point-per-game scoring rate in each of the last five seasons, is beloved in Colorado and likely to play a prominent role for Team Canada in the 2024 World Cup of Hockey.
“I think the deal I sign will be fair,” the former first overall pick added. “It’s not going to be a single digit [salary cap hit] or anything, but it’ll be good, I think, for both sides. Denver’s the only place I want to be.”
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