By the numbers: Nathan MacKinnon’s landmark deal among the highest ever in NHL history

Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) passes the puck in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers of game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Neither the Avalanche nor Nathan MacKinnon wanted this to linger.

When Colorado’s 27-year-old superstar put pen to paper on his landmark deal on Tuesday, he reiterated his relief in wanting to have this done before the opening of the 2022-23 season.

After all, the last thing MacKinnon or the Avs wanted to be pressed on all year was this extension, and when it would get done.

“It may have taken a few extra weeks or a month or whatever, but it was always a priority,” general manager Chris MacFarland said of the deal. “Thankful that’s done so we can focus on hockey here.”

MacKinnon’s eight-year, $100.8 million contract didn’t just lock in Colorado’s generational centerman for the foreseeable future. It locked in the NHL’s highest-paid contract on an average annual basis, and broke a single-season franchise record

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By the numbers:

1 — At an average annual value of $12.6 million, MacKinnon is now the highest-paid NHL player, surpassing Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million. No other NHL player has averaged a higher salary in league history.

2 — MacKinnon will be making two times as much as he was on his last deal. MacKinnon’s current seven-year, $44.1 million contract pays him $6.3 million per season — the last of which will be paid out this upcoming season.

3 — MacKinnon will make just $3 million in signing bonuses in year 4 of his deal — the 2026-27 season. His base salary of $9.9 million is the only year of the entire deal where he’ll make more than $1 million aside from bonuses.

That season is when the MOU (memorandum of understanding) extension on the current collective bargaining agreement is scheduled to expire. Ultimately, MacFarland and the Avalanche’s brass won the battle on lockout protection. If the NHL goes into a lockout that year, MacKinnon will make just $3 million, as signing bonuses are paid out even if a whole season was hypothetically wiped out.

4 — MacKinnon’s total contract value, $100.8 million, is the fourth highest in NHL history. The three that surpassed that total were between 12-14 years in length.

12 — MacKinnon is the 12th player to sign a max-term eight-year contract this summer. His teammate, Valeri Nishushkin is among the others, signing a $49 million contract prior to the opening of free agency.

The only other team to hand out more eight-year deals was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who signed Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak to max term deals in July.

15 — MacKinnon is the 15th player to join the $10 million-plus per season club in the salary cap era. No team has won a Stanley Cup with a player eating up a seven-digit salary against the cap. The only player to appear in the Stanley Cup final while making seven digits is Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

16.5 — In the first two years of the contract, MacKinnon is slated to make $16.5 million in total salary. His base salary will be just $775,000 after being paid out a signing bonus of $15.725 million on July 1.

The only other player to ever make more than $16.5 million in any one NHL season was Jaromir Jagr, who was paid $17.4 million by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000. To round out the top 3, Avs president of hockey operations Joe Sakic was paid $16.45 million in 1998.

MacKinnon passed McDavid by $100,000 to overtake the NHL lead in AAV and Sakic by $50,000 to break the franchise record.

18 — If MacKinnon plays out the entirety of his extension with the Avalanche, he’ll have spent 18 seasons with the franchise. And at 36 years old, could be in for another deal or two. The franchise record held by Sakic is 20 seasons.

84 — MacKinnon will be paid $84.34 million of his deal in signing bonuses over eight years. July 1 is going to be a magical day for Colorado’s top forward for nearly a decade.

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Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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