Nathan MacKinnon has been one of the league’s top players for half a decade, but that has not been reflected in his salary with the Colorado Avalanche ($6.3 million AAV). It appears that is going to change in a big way soon.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported during the latest 32 Thoughts Podcast that there is a distinct possibility MacKinnon’s next contract makes him the highest-paid player in the league.
“I’m really curious to see where we’re going to end up contract-wise with Nathan MacKinnon,” Friedman said. “The word I’ve heard is that they’ve been talking. I think it’s going to be a big number. I think the best way for me to say it is I think it’s going to be a big number. I think it’s a possibility, but not guaranteed, Nathan MacKinnon could end up being the highest-paid player in the league. Now, right now, that’s Connor McDavid at $12.5 million by AAV. I think it’s possible. Even if he isn’t, I think it’s going to be a big number.”
The McDavid contract that Friedman refers to was signed by the superstar center and the Oilers on July 5, 2017. It was an 8-year deal worth exactly $100 million. With the rumors that the league’s salary cap could jump up sooner than once thought, the Avalanche may need to up the ante to keep MacKinnon in town.
“If the Avalanche do this and it does end up being as high as it could possibly be, I don’t think people are going to argue with it,” Friedman continued. “He’s that good and he’s that important. This is a big one, I’m sure the Avalanche probably wanted to keep it a little bit lower – still double digits. It’s possible this one goes into the highest-paid player in the NHL territory or close to it.”
Only two players in the entire NHL have more points over the past five seasons than MacKinnon’s 442: Connor McDavid (549) and Leon Draisaitl (479). But neither of those starts have been a key contributor in a successful Stanley Cup run like MacKinnon was in 2022.
Goals here, goals there, goals everywhere in the #StanleyCupPlayoffsRecap. 🚨
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 29, 2022
Mackinnon signed his current contract in July of 2016 and it expires after this upcoming season. At the time, the former number one overall selection was somewhat struggling to contribute on some terrible Avalanche teams. The season prior to him signing the seven-year, $44.1 million deal he had just recorded 52 points in 72 games. That total was better than his sophomore total of 38 points but still lagged behind his rookie season total of 63 points.
He has since exploded onto the scene scoring at a 1.18 points per game clip. That includes three seasons in a row (2017-18 through 2019-20) that saw him tally over 90 points.
Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic ran an interesting post in early August about the “efficiency” of NHL contracts. His process answers two questions: How much surplus value will the deal provide and what’s the likelihood of it providing positive value?
MacKinnon’s contract was ranked an ‘A’ and the sole reason it didn’t rank ‘A+’ or break the scale is that there is just one year remaining on it. The Avalanche as a team finished only behind the Florida Panthers in how efficient the contracts they have their players signed to are.
So, it’s clear that it’s time the Nova Scotia native gets what he deserves.
Headline photo: @mackinnon29/Instagram
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