Colorado Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen Must Stop Making Comparables

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Mikko Rantanen poses with members of the Colorado Avalanche organization after being selected tenth overall by the Colorado Avalanche during Round One of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Mikko Rantanen poses with members of the Colorado Avalanche organization after being selected tenth overall by the Colorado Avalanche during Round One of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen camp need to stop relying on comparables to get their own contract done. There’s too much variance.

The Colorado Avalanche and star winger Mikko Rantanen are at cross purposes. They both want to get a contract done so that the team can start as full unit on opening night, or as close to that as work visas will allow. However, neither side can agree on term or value.

The way I look at it, the problem is they’re relying on comparables.

The standard in NHL contract negotiation is to take the player in question and compare him to similar players. Generally, the similarity is in production and/or value to the team. The players are usually of similar position, meaning you don’t compare forwards to goalies. And they’re usually in the same place along their career trajectory.

This standard seems to make sense, right? Well, it is, in fact, what’s holding up the Rantanen contract. Both sides are still engaged in a game of wait and see despite the fact that opening night is nine days away.

Plus, most of the comparable contracts have been signed. And they yielded nothing of value to either side because they swing so wildly in term and AAV for players who seem to be very much of the same ilk.

The main comparables in this situation are Braydon Point, Sebastian Aho, Leon Draisaitl, and Mitch Marner. Colorado would like to lean toward the former. Rantanen and his camp, agent Mike Liut, seem to favor the latter.

So, let’s look at the comparables.

Braydon Point, 23 years old

Position: Center, right wing
Size: 5’10”, 166 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists)
Contract: 3 years, AAV $6.75 million

Sebastian Aho, 22 years old

Position: Center, left wing
Size: 6’0″, 176 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists)
Contract: 5 years, AAV $8,45

Leon Draisaitl, 23 years old

Position: Forward
Size: 6’2″, 208 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 105 points (50 goals, 55 assists)
Contract: 8 years, AAV $8.5 million

Mitch Marner, 22 years old

Position: Right wing
Size: 6’0″
2018-19 Stats: 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists)
Contract: 6 years, AAV $10.89 million

See what I mean about their being all over the place. You’ve got everything from three years to eight, $6.75 million to $10.89 million. Yet the players themselves are either 22 or 23, and they recorded between 83 to 105 points.

For comparison, since this is what it’s all about:

Mikko Rantanen, 22 years old

Position: Right wing
Size: 6’4″, 215 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists)
Contract: RFA

The only way Rantanen exceeds all of those players is in size. Otherwise, he’s pretty much the same as all of them, from Point to Marner.

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A note on Point before you think he’s getting the shaft. While his cap hit is relatively modest, compared to the other three players, it’s bottom-heavy. His final year, he’ll be making $9 million, will be the starting point for his new contract.

Anyway, that’s why the Colorado Avalanche and the Mikko Rantanen need to stop leaning so heavily on comparables. It’ll become just like any other contentious debate that become black and white. Each side will dig their heels in with the Avs howling for Point money or a Draisaitl deal while Rantanen (or Liut) screams for Marner money.

Instead, the two sides just need to find common ground. It behooves the Avalanche to have their best winger in the lineup as soon as possible. And it behooves Rantanen to be in the NHL making NHL money.

Each side should forget the comparables and figure out what’s most important to them. I think Colorado wants to lock Rantanen up long-term. I imagine Mikko wants the money. (We’re going to start calling him Mikko “Show Me the Money” Rantanen pretty soon.)

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The Colorado Avalanche might have to cough up a little more term than they’re comfortable with in order to get a little more of Mikko’s prime year’s than he’s comfortable with.

Successful negotiations only end with both sides feeling like they’re both the victors and the victims.

So, come on already, get the Rantanen contract done.