Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche Agree to 8-Year, $100.6M Contract; NHL's Top-Paid Player

Adam WellsSeptember 20, 2022

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 26: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche hoists the Stanley Cup after the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game Six to take the best of seven Stanley Cup Final series 4 games to 2.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

After leading the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup title, Nathan MacKinnon is now the NHL's highest-paid player.

The Avs announced an eight-year contract extension with their superstar center on Tuesday.

Colorado Avalanche @Avalanche

EIGHT MORE FOR NATE THE GREAT!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoAvsGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoAvsGo</a> <a href="https://t.co/BzQmrdIk6w">pic.twitter.com/BzQmrdIk6w</a>

Per TSN Sports, MacKinnon's $12.6 million average annual salary surpasses Connor McDavid's $12.5 million per season deal as the richest in the NHL.

Chris Johnston of North Star Sports noted the extension kicks in at the start of the 2023-24 season.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun provided full details of the contract structure, with most of the money being paid out as a signing bonus.

Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun

Nathan MacKinnon contract structure:<br><br>23-24: $15.725M signing bonus, $775k salary<br>24-25: $15.725M SB, $775k salary<br>25-26: $15.25M SB, $800k salary<br>26-27: $3M SB, $9.15M salary<br>27-28 through 30-31: $8.91M SB, $990k salary each year<br><br>AAV $12.6 M

A new deal has been expected for some time, with MacKinnon saying last week on the NHL/NHLPA media tour in Las Vegas the two sides were "pretty close" on an agreement.

"I'd prefer it to be done," he added. "… It gets emotional. You feel like it's personal sometimes. I'd like to get it done just so it's not a distraction at all.

The five-time All-Star will earn $6.85 million in 2022-23, the final season of his seven-year, $44.1 million contract that was signed in July 2016.

MacKinnon has been everything the Avs could have hoped for since making him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. The Canadian star became the youngest player in NHL history to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as an 18-year-old during the 2013-14 season.

Colorado ended its three-year playoff drought in MacKinnon's rookie campaign. After another three-year absence from 2014-17, the Avs have made the postseason in each of the past five seasons.

The 2021-22 season was arguably the best in Avalanche history. They set franchise records for regular-season wins (56) and points (119) to earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They went 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs, including two sweeps to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

MacKinnon had six points in six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning to lead the Avs to their first championship in 21 years. He has scored 648 points in 638 career regular-season games.