Avalanche makes Nathan McKinnon the highest-paid player in the NHL

Colorado Avalanche has signed star striker Nathan McKinnon to an eight-year extension worth $12.6 million a year, making him the highest-paid player in the NHL.

The contract, valued at $100.8 million in full, won’t go live until 2023-24.

McKinnon enters the final season of a six-year, $44.1 million (US$6.3 million) contract signed in 2016 – which earned him a reputation as one of the NHL’s most underpaid players.

His new average annual value of $12.6 million, which is exactly double his current contract, exceeds Conor McDavid’s $12.50.

The contract breaks down as follows, according to Friendly Cap:

2023-24: $15.725 million signing bonus, $775,000 base salary
2024-25: $15.725 million signing bonus, $775,000 base salary
2025-26: $15.25 million signature bonus, $800,000 base salary
2026-27: $3 million signature bonus, $9.15 million base salary
2027-28: $8.91 million signing bonus, $990,000 base salary
2028-2029: $8.91 million signing bonus, $990,000 base salary
2029-30: $8.91 million signing bonus, $990,000 base salary
2030-31: $8.91 million signing bonus, $990,000 base salary

In total, $85.34 million will be paid out on his contract when the rewards are signed. $100.8 million is the fourth largest contract in NHL history.

The 27-year-old, who was drafted #1 overall by Avalanche in 2013, has played his entire nine-year NHL career in Colorado so far.

Last season, the Halifax native was a key player in Avalanche’s run to the Stanley Cup – leading the team with 13 goals in the playoffs, adding 11 assists, contributing to a key goal and helping to win the Championship Game 6 against Tampa Lightning Bay.

Since the 2017-18 season, his fifth season in the league, McKinnon has scored 167 goals and assisted 275 (442 points) in 338 games. His list of awards includes: the Stanley Cup in 2022, the Calder Cup in 2013-14, and the Lady Bing in 2019-20.

Although McKinnon has never won Hart’s MVP award in the league, he finished second (2017-18, 2019-20) and took third (2020-21) in the vote.

“Nathan is clearly one of the key players in the NHL, so a long-term extension was something we wanted to do before the season started,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said in a press release.

“He has that rare combination of speed and power with a highly competitive level that makes him a player from generation to generation. We are delighted that he will continue to be a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”

The MacKinnon expansion is just the latest in Colorado’s off-season. The club also extended forwards Valery Neshushkin (eight years, $49 million) and Arturi Likonen (five years, $4.5 million), and defender Josh Manson (four years, $18 million).

McKinnon would become the highest-paid player in the avalanche by a large margin, surpassing Mikko Rantanen’s $9.25 million AAV who was previously the team’s highest grossing.

Cale Makar, another Colorado star who won the 2022 Conn Smyth title as playoff player of the year, is signed for $9 million per season through 2026-27.

The defending champions now have McKinnon, Makar, Rantanen, Captain Gabriel Landskog, Neshochkin, Likonen, Josh Manson, Samuel Gerrard, Logan O’Connor and Alexander Georgiev under contract for the next three seasons.