AVALANCHE

The Avalanche should pay Nathan MacKinnon whatever price he’s asking

Aug 10, 2022, 6:00 AM
Nathan Mackinnon...
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche have written a lot of big checks recently.

The Kroenke family needs to get ready to sign another monster one.

Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon is ready to get paid. According to 104.3 The Fan Avalanche insider Adrian Dater, Mackinnon is seeking the richest contract in the NHL. Arguably the best player on the best team, Mackinnon just won the Stanley Cup and wants to be compensated to reflect that. I have no problem with it.

Mackinnon is coming off a dominant postseason run which saw the Avalanche bring home their first title since 2001. He led the team in playoff goals with 13 and added 11 assists, trailing only Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar (29) and star winger Mikko Rantanen (25) in postseason points.

Both Makar and Rantanen received big contracts from the Avalanche recently. Makar signed a six-year, $54 million deal in July of 2021 and Rantanen inked a six-year, $55.5 million contract in September of 2019. For perspective, MacKinnon agreed to a seven-year, $44.1 million dollar deal way back in 2016. He’s honored that all the way through, and is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Avalanche president Joe Sakic knows he can’t let it get to that point. Heck, owners Stan and Josh Kroenke have to feel the same way, along with new GM Chris MacFarland. You don’t just let the most electric player in hockey hit free agency. It would be insane and borderline criminal for MacKinnon to even sniff the open market.

That’s why the Avs need to get this deal done and need to get it done soon. The Dater report is a bit jarring when you read the headline, but MacKinnon’s been underpaid his entire career based on his production. It’s time to open up the cash register and make sure he’s a member of the Avalanche for life.

In nine seasons with Colorado, Mackinnon has averaged an eye-popping 82 points. Like a fine wine, he’s gotten better with age. MacKinnon has three 90-plus point seasons over the last five years, and would have reached that mark the last two if a shortened season and fluky injuries didn’t prevent it. He played 48 of the 56 total games in 2020-21 and missed 17 contests a year ago.

The five-time All-Star and near Hart Trophy winner three times (twice a runner-up, one third place finish) is indispensable. MacKinnon infamously said after the 2021 playoffs he “hadn’t won s***” in his NHL career and then at the Avalanche’s victory parade proclaimed, “(in) my ninth year, I finally won something I guess.”

The Dallas Stars will pay Tyler Seguin a ridiculous $13 million in 2022. The New York Rangers will give Artemi Panarin $12.5 million and a slew of players will collect $12 million from their teams, including Oilers superstar Connor McDavid. MacKinnon deserves to be in that category, if not above those guys. After all, none have won a championship with their current team.

Avalanche fans may look at the team’s $3.91 million in cap space and fret about how a new deal for MacKinnon gets done. Especially a very rich one.

First of all, he can play the upcoming season on his current deal. Second, Colorado will have MacKinnon’s $6.3 million coming off the books next year. Throw in Erik Johnson’s $6 million and JT Compher’s $3.5 million and that’s $15.8 million right there. That’s more than enough to give MacKinnon a deal worth $13 million (or more) a season. A Samuel Girard trade and dumping his $5 million salary is always a possibility as well.

The Avs have Makar, Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog locked up for a long time. Defenseman Devon Toews has two years left on his deal and Sakic and company committed to key Cup contributors Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson this offseason. Throw in a new three-year contract for goalie Alexander Georgiev and this core is built to win for the foreseeable future.

That is, if MacKinnon continues to remain apart of it. The Avs have a rare chance to become a dynasty. The Stanley Cup this summer could be their first of two, three or even four over the next six seasons.

It’s time Colorado write Nathan MacKinnon a blank check, even if he wants to be the NHL’s highest paid player.

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The Avalanche should pay Nathan MacKinnon whatever price he’s asking