Nathan MacKinnon signs 8-year contract, highest-paying in NHL: AP source


DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche make Nathan MacKinnon the highest-paid player in the NHL’s salary cap era.

MacKinnon, who just turned 27 earlier this month, has signed an eight-year deal worth $100.8 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team did not disclose the terms of the contract.

His new $12.6 million salary cap, effective at the start of the 2023-24 season, surpasses Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million as the highest in the league. McDavid’s eight-year, $100 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers, signed in 2017, set the previous record for the highest annual cap since the system’s inception in 2005.

The only deals richer than MacKinnon’s in the Cap era are: Alex Ovechkin’s $124 million, 13-year deal with Washington, Shea Weber’s $110 million, 14-year deal with Nashville, and Sidney Crosby’s 104.4 $1 million, 12-year contract with Pittsburgh. The collective bargaining agreement has since limited contract terms to eight years for a player retiring with his own team and seven for free agents.

MacKinnon agreed to the deal with the training camp starting soon. It’s been a brief offseason for MacKinnon and the Avalanche after winning their first Stanley Cup title since 2001.

The hard-shooting, fast-running center secured the league lead with 13 postseason goals. It was the second highest in a single playoff run in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famer Joe Sakic’s 18 goals in 1996 (when Colorado won its first trophy).

MacKinnon, the top pick overall in the 2013 draft, has been a Hart Trophy finalist in three of the last five seasons (’17-18, ’18-19, ’20-21). He has 242 career goals and 406 assists – the most of any in his draft class.

“Nathan is obviously one of the best players in the NHL, so we wanted to get a long-term overtime deal done before the start of the season,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said in a statement Tuesday about the overtime. β€œHe has that rare combination of speed and power with a high level of competition that makes him a generational player. We look forward to having him as a member of this team and community for many years to come.”

For years, MacKinnon was considered the underpaid hockey player – a title he really didn’t mind. Now he has one more – Stanley Cup Champion.

He is part of a core Avalanche group that also includes defender Cale Makar, forward Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog.

“Denver is definitely the only place I want to be,” MacKinnon said recently in Henderson, Nevada, during a preseason player media tour.

McDavid feels being surpassed as the highest-paid player is “good for hockey I think, to keep raising the bar”.

“But ultimately, the salary cap system is a weird system where the more money you make, the less money someone else can make,” McDavid added. “It’s such a strange system. There will always be give and take.”