Nathan MacKinnon Becomes the Highest Paid Player in the NHL

(Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stanley Cup Champion Nathan MacKinnon signed a contract extension with the Avalanche, making him a long-term Av and the highest-paid player in the NHL. MacKinnon, whose current contract expires at the end of the 2022-23 season, signed an 8-year 100.8 million dollar extension with an annual cap hit of 12.6 million AAV and an 8-year no movement clause. After winning a cup on one of the best contracts in the league, Mackinnon was due for a raise, and he got just that and the promise of staying in Denver long term. 

This signing is excellent for the Avalanche. No matter how expensive he is, MacKinnon is a top-three center in the NHL. While the Avalanche are loaded with other talented pieces, like Cale Makar, MacKinnon is essential to this team’s success and identity. He is one of the fastest players in the league, with a great hockey IQ and the ability to carve the ice to his will. He also is not afraid to drop the gloves and stand up for himself or a teammate. The only weak spot in MacKinnon’s game is his defensive prowess but that is not dissimilar from many other top forwards in the league. Despite that one little caveat, MacKinnon is a generational talent. From how he plays to his efforts off the ice, he improves the team around him by leaps and bounds. 

Here are what MacKinnon’s underlying numbers look like ahead of this extension: 

(Jfresh Hockey)

Here are what his numbers are projected to be next season: 

(Jfresh Hockey)

All in all, this deal is a great one for both MacKinnon and the Avalanche. The Avalanche lock down their star center, and MacKinnon gets to remain in Denver. Signing this extension also gives the Avalanche front office a lot more clarity and freedom regarding their cap situation. The flat cap makes it very difficult for teams to sign new talent and keep their skilled players who are due for raises. Now that the Avalanche know that MacKinnon will be with the team for the next eight seasons and how much money he is making against the cap, they can make personnel moves and future plans accordingly. These days, managing the cap is on par with scouting regarding team construction. Having MacKinnon signed gives the Avalanche a clearer fiscal picture going into this season, this trade deadline, and this off-season. 

MacKinnon’s contract extension is the biggest deal in NHL history, but it is also just another impressive signing by the Avalanche. The Avalanche’s ability to keep so many franchise players locked up to fair long-term deals indicates that this team has something special that makes players want to stay. The locker room, team culture, fans, and the city of Denver make the Avalanche so alluring. MacKinnon said, “I just wanted to be here for the rest of my career” ( per Peter Baugh). He got his wish with this 8-year extension. The MacKinnon era has just begun in Denver, and it will undoubtedly continue to bring success back to Denver over the next 8 years. 

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