DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche is making Nathan McKinnon the highest-paid player in the NHL’s salary cap era.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, McKinnon, who turned 27 earlier this month, signed an eight-year contract worth US$100.8 million. The man spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the terms of the contract.
His new US$12.6 million salary cap hit, which took effect at the start of the 2023–24 season, exceeds Conor McDavid’s US$12.5 million, the highest in the league. McDavid’s US$100 million, eight-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers in 2017, held the previous record for the highest annual cap hit since the system was implemented in 2005.
The only deals richer than McKinnon in the cap era are: Alex Ovechkin’s US$124 million, a 13-year contract with Washington, Shia Webber’s US$110 million, a 14-year contract with Nashville, and Sidney Crosby’s US$104.4. Million, 12-year contract with Pittsburgh . The collective bargaining agreement has since limited contract lengths for players to re-sign with their teams and seven years for free agents.
McKinnon agreed with the training camp to begin. It has been a short off-season for McKinnon and the Avalanche after winning their first Stanley Cup title since 2001.
The hard-shooting, fast-skating center is tied for the league-lead after the season with 13 goals. It was the second-highest in a single playoff run in franchise history, behind only Hall of Famer Joe Sakic’s 18 goals in 1996 (when Colorado won their first cup).
McKinnon, the top overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been a finalist for the Hart Trophy in three of the last five seasons (’17-18, ’18-19, ’20-21). He has 242 career goals and 406 assists – the most in his draft class.
“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 even started,” Avalanche general manager Chris McFarland said in a statement Tuesday about the expansion. “He has that rare combination of speed and power with a high competition level that makes him a player of a generation. We are thrilled that he will continue to be a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”
For years, McKinnon was known as the lowest paid player in hockey—a title he didn’t really care about. Now, they have another – the Stanley Cup champions.
He is part of a core Avalanche group that also includes defenseman Kale Makar, forward Miko Rentanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog.
“Denver is the only place I definitely want to be,” McKinnon said during a recent Precision Player media tour in Henderson, Nevada.
McDavid is best regarded as the highest-paid player, “good for hockey, I guess, for 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 said. “It’s a weird system like that. There’s always a give and take.”