MacKinnon signs eight-year contract with Avalanche

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Nathan MacKinnon signed an eight-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed. The contract starts next season. 

“It’s cool to get it over with,” MacKinnon said. “Been thinking about it a lot. Didn’t want to go into the seaosn without a contract, I knew I’d be asked about it all season, so I’m really happy.”

The 27-year-old center has one season remaining on a seven-year contract he signed with the Avalanche on July 8, 2016. He could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

“Nathan is obviously one of the premier players in the NHL so a long-term extension was something we wanted to get done before the season started,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said. “He has that rare combination of speed and power with a high compete level that makes him a generational player. We are thrilled he will continue to be a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”

MacKinnon told reporters Sept. 15 that he wanted to have the new contract signed before the Avalanche start the season Oct. 12 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Ball Arena in Denver.

“I’d like to get it done, for sure, it’s no secret,” MacKinnon said the next day at the NHL North American Player Media Tour during an interview for the “NHL @TheRink” podcast. “I feel like we’re close and nothing to report, but I think the intentions are for both sides to get it done. That’s the main thing, not looking to play it out or anything. If I have to, it will have to be with no distraction because it’s a lot.

“It’s a lot on your mind. I think about it a lot, my future, but my goal is to be an ‘Av’ for life.”

MacKinnon tied Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane for the lead in goals (13) and had 24 points during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season to help the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. He was second on Colorado with 88 points (32 goals, 56 assists) in 65 regular-season games but led it with 1.35 points per game.

“We have a kind of a ballpark, well we believe we have a ballpark on where [MacKinnon’s contract is] going to go,” Avalanche president Joe Sakic said at the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7. “We’re hopeful at some point. … Obviously he’s got another year, but we’re hoping to have something done with him, an extension, this summer.”

Since 2017-18, MacKinnon is third in the NHL with 442 points (167 goals, 275 assists) in 338 games, trailing Oilers centers Connor McDavid (549) and Leon Draisaitl (479). He was a Hart Trophy Finalist as NHL most valuable player in three of those five seasons (2017-18, 2019-20, 2020-21).

“The deal I’ve been on at the time I signed was completely fair,” MacKinnon said. “No complaints at all, but you don’t want to be labeled as the most underpaid guy for your whole career. But I see some numbers out there of what I’m looking for, it’s not true, crazy numbers. But hopefully the deal that gets done people see as fair for both sides.”

Colorado has qualified for the postseason each of the past five seasons and six of the nine since MacKinnon was drafted. They had missed the postseason in each of the previous three.

The No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, MacKinnon has 648 points (242 goals, 406 assists) in 638 regular-season games and 93 points (41 goals, 52 assists) in 70 playoff games. His 1.33 points per game in the postseason ranks third in history behind Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61) among those who have played at least 50 games.

MacKinnon joins defenseman Cale Makar (six years) and forward Gabriel Landeskog (eight years), who each signed a contract prior to last season, as part of the Avalanche core signed long term.

“Our core is such a key piece to our success and that’s led by Nate,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “His contract has been coming for quite some time. He’s earned it. We’re really happy to have him back and happy for him to sign the big deal and be part of it for a long time to come.”

NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report


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