Nathan McKinnon is the highest-paid player in the NHL with a $12.6 million AAV in an 8-year deal

The Colorado Avalanche made Nathan McKinnon the highest-paid player in the NHL salary cap era.

McKinnon, who turned 27 earlier this month, has an eight-year contract worth $100.8 million, the team announced Tuesday.

His new US $12.6 million salary cap came into effect at the start of the 2023-24 season, overtaking Conor McDavid, who earned $12.5 million, as the highest in the league. McDavid’s $100 million eight-year deal with Edmonton Oilers signed in 2017 was the previous record for the highest annual cap achieved since the system went live in 2005.

The richest MacKinnon deals, in terms of total dollars, in NHL history:

  • Alex Ovechkin $124 Million 13-Year Contract With Washington
  • Shea Weber’s $110 Million 14-Year Contract with Nashville
  • Sidney Crosby’s $104.4 million 12-year contract with Pittsburgh.

Since then, the collective bargaining agreement has limited contract extensions to eight years for players who re-sign with his team and seven for free agents.

McKinnon agreed to the deal with training camp about to begin. It was a short out of the season for McKinnon and an avalanche after they won their first Stanley Cup title since 2001.

The fast skating hard-hitting position tied for the top of the league with 13 goals after the season. It was the second-highest single-run playoff number in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famer Joe Sakic by 18 goals in 1996 (when Colorado won his first trophy).

He has that rare combination of speed and power with a highly competitive level that makes him a player from generation to generation.Avalanche GM Chris McFarland beats striker Nathan McKinnon

McKinnon, an overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been a Hart Cup finalist in three of the last five seasons (17-18, 18-19, 20-21). He has 242 career goals and 406 assists, which is the most goals anyone has ever achieved from his nursing class.

“Nathan is clearly one of the best players in the National Hockey League, so a long-term extension was something we wanted to get done before the season started,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said in a statement Tuesday regarding the extension. “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 Halifax native, Nova Scotia, was the youngest player in franchise history to make his National Hockey League debut (18 years, 31 days) and went on to win the Calder Cup that season as the league’s top rookie. He also won the Lady Byng Award for Sportsmanship and Polite Conduct in 2020. In addition to this, he was appointed as the Captain of the Central Division in his last three All-Star games.

McKinnon’s latest contract, which was signed in 2016 and expires after next season, was $44.1 million over seven years with a maximum of $6.3 million. Only four players have exceeded the 495 points he placed in the regular season since that deal went into effect, and 83 players in the playoffs have been the second-most in the NHL since then.

For this reason, McKinnon has been known for years as the highest paid player in hockey – a title he didn’t really care about.

These days, he has another champion – the Stanley Cup champion.

He is part of the Avalanche core group which also includes defender Cale Makar, striker Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog.

“Obviously it’s really cool, for sure,” McKinnon said of being the highest-paid player in hockey. “Hopefully there won’t be more epidemics and the lid will go up more, but, yeah, I think the term was the most important thing. I just wanted to stay here for the rest of my career and hopefully get another deal after that, too.”

McKinnon is now signed until 2031. Colorado also has multi-talented striker Valeri Neshochkin signed until 2030, Landskog until 2029 and Makar, playoff player of the year, until 2027. McFarland’s assignment next summer is an extension with Rantanen.

“He’s showing a lot of loyalty,” said Sakic, the current president of hockey operations in Colorado. “Nathan wanted to get that done, we wanted to get it done and he’s a franchise player and we’re really excited that he’s going to stay here in Colorado for the rest of his career.”

McDavid considers him to be surpassed as the highest paid player, “good for hockey, I think, to keep raising the bar.”

“But in the end, the salary cap system is a strange system where the more money you make, the less money someone else can make,” MacDavid added. “It’s kind of a weird system that way. There will always be give and take.”