Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon’s Contract

Mar 18, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) and Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland (29) battle for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Colorado Avalanche won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) and Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland (29) battle for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Colorado Avalanche won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche Center Nathan MacKinnon is going to get a new contract this year, and he’s probably going to hit payday when he does.

Nathan MacKinnon is the present and future of this Colorado Avalanche team, and his entry-level contract (ELC) expired at the conclusion of this season, so it’s time to get the man a new contract.

Unfortunately, Nathan MacKinnon is not the only player that the Colorado Avalanche need to sign this offseason. Management is also hoping that they can at least sign Mikkel Boedker and Shawn Matthias, while Tyson Barrie may prove more difficult to sign.

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So, the Avs might realistically be looking at a trade with Tyson Barrie, and that might not be the worst option, particularly if they can sign a defensively responsible d-man.

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The questions really are: how much money do the Avs have for each player they are trying to sign during this offseason? And, what sort of contract should Nathan MacKinnon receive? A Bridge deal, or a long-term deal?

Bridge Deal

Personally, this deal makes the most sense. Nathan MacKinnon has not played a full season since his rookie year, and he also hasn’t broken the 60 point mark since that season either.

He’s not even leading his draft class in points:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.42.30 AM
Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.42.30 AM /

I took this screenshot from the 2013 draft class point total on

He’s obviously played in less games than Sean Monahan, but that’s just a question of durability over the last two seasons.

Luckily, after his performance in his sophomore year, he was able to rebound with a lot better year this season, but he’s still yet to have a dominant season in the NHL.

Furthermore, he’s played in 27 more games than Aleksander Barkov, yet only has a 34 point lead on the young man. In the left column you can see what round they were drafted in, and how high overall.

Nathan MacKinnon is leading the group above in points per game at a rate of .7 per game. But that’s just barely higher than Monahan’s .67, and Barkov’s .62.

Which is why a bridge deal makes sense, a deal similar to the one Matt Duchene received after the conclusion of his ELC. Duchene got a two-year deal worth 7 million, at a cap hit of 3.5 mil a year at the conclusion of his ELC.

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He was still a RFA at the end of the deal, and he posted 70 points in 71 games during the final year of his bridge deal to earn a five year contract worth 30 million, accruing a cap hit of 6 mil a year until the conclusion of the 2018-19 season when he becomes an UFA.

Nathan MacKinnon has not proven yet that he is ready to lead this team offensively, and until he does prove that he is capable of that sort of domination, the sort associated with a No. 1 overall pick, then a bridge deal makes the most sense.

I see that deal capping out at 8 million over two years, maybe 9 at the most, but paying MacKinnon in the 3.5 mil to 4.5 mil range over the next two seasons makes a lot of sense for both sides.

MacKinnon gets more time to prove that he is worth the big contract, and the Avalanche get some more time to assess his value at a relatively cheap price.

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Nonetheless, there’s always the temptation to lock up a player long-term.

The Colorado Avalanche would be judging what type of player they think MacK will be three or four years down the line.

And, they would be trying to lock him up at a cheaper price for that long-term contract than they would if he absolutely explodes offensively during a two-year bridge deal, which is certainly a likely possibility.

Long-Term Deal

Nathan MacKinnon started this year on a tear, scoring 24 points in his first 23 games, but then he cooled off, finishing with just 28 points in his final 49 games.

So, he’s certainly proven that he is capable of scoring at a point per game pace, which would certainly show that he might be ready for the big contract this summer.

Also, the Colorado Avalanche don’t want to be dealing with a dominant Nathan MacKinnon two years down the line after a bridge deal.

He would certainly be much more expensive in that case, and Mikko Rantanen will also be due for a contract the year after a two-year bridge deal for MacKinnon, and he may be looking at a lot of money then too.

So, the Avs have to prepare for the future with Nathan MacKinnon, which means they may try and alleviate the pressure of that future by signing MacKinnon to a four or five year deal this summer.

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What would that deal look like?

Matt Duchene gets paid 6 million a year, and it’s often been the unspoken rule that no one gets paid more than Matt Duchene on this team.

Is it possible to sign MacK to a long-term deal this summer at a cheaper price than the Avs currently have Dutchy locked up for?

I think it definitely is, or at least at the same price.

As I’ve said already, I don’t think MacKinnon is ready for a long-term deal, but if the Colorado Avalanche are looking at that for him this summer, than they should be looking to sign him to a four-year 22-23 million contract.

That would put MacK’s cap hit in the 5.5-5.75 mil range through the 2019-20 season, which would be a great price for the forward Nathan MacKinnon is likely to become.

Still, I think that’s too expensive for the kid right now, and the Avs should really be looking at a bridge deal for MacKinnon.

The only danger with a bridge deal is that he goes off during those two years, and proves to be a very expensive asset to sign in the summer of 2018.

Sometimes risks pay off though, that’s why it’s a risk.


The Avs have a lot of players to consider this offseason, and they know they need a winger. Mikkel Boedker is going to be difficult to sign if the Avs don’t do a bridge deal with MacK this offseason.

I’m not sure what Boedker is asking from the Avalanche, but I imagine it’s in the 5-6 mil per year range, and the Avs simply cannot afford that by giving MacKinnon a long-term deal.

Boedker is already an UFA this offseason, while MacK would still be a RFA at the conclusion of a bridge deal, meaning it would be real difficult for them to lose him if contract negotiations don’t go well after a two-year bridge deal.

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Tyson Barrie also figures into the equation this summer, and so the Avalanche need to spend their money wisely, and in order to do that a bridge deal with MacK makes the most sense for both sides.

It’s going to be an interesting summer for the Colorado Avalanche as far as contracts are concerned, and we’ll have a good idea of what this teams plans to be in the future at the conclusion of this summer’s offseason.