On September 20, Nathan MacKinnon became the NHL’s highest paid player after signing an eight-year, $100.8 million contract extension. While Colorado Avalanche fans rejoiced about the news of locking down one of their star players, many questioned what the huge contract could mean for the future of the team as a whole.
Simply put, MacKinnon staying in Colorado means that the Avalanche will be a championship team for years to come with a potential dynasty on the horizon.
The former first overall pick has famously taken smaller payouts in the past in order for there to be adequate cap space for other players to remain with the team. But now, after being a main component in bringing the Stanley Cup back to Colorado for the first time in over 20 years, MacKinnon is finally getting the contract that is more than well-deserved.
The top line center finished last season with 32 goals, 56 assists and a total of 88 points, coming in only behind forward Mikko Rantanen for team leaders. In the playoffs, he racked up a total of 20 goals, 13 assists and 24 points in just 20 games. He remained part of the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation due to his incredible production in the postseason that helped the Avs win the Cup.
When looking at the Avalanche as a whole, the roster is full of unimaginable talent. And due to the team being on the younger side, many of their key players are staying put in Denver with many years to go in their impressive careers. Before the 2021-22 season began, it was announced that all-star defenseman Cale Makar signed a hefty six-year deal, and captain Gabriel Landeskog also agreed to terms with an eight-year contract. Makar went on to win the Norris Trophy, the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup last season, while Landeskog led the team to the playoffs while putting up amazing numbers himself. The team has also made impressive additions in terms of trading or signing players following the end of the season which only adds to their depth and danger coming into the 2022-23 season.
Although the Avs did lose crucial pieces like forwards Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky along with goaltender Darcy Kuemper over the off-season, their most important players are still there, and it’s a fantastic core to build around. That will be what brings them to more championships in the future. The opportunity to win back-to-back is there, and Colorado is just as strong as they were before. They will be strong for many years to come with a wide range of players, like MacKinnon, who have skills and talent like no other and are set to play for the Avalanche long term.
With MacKinnon staying in Colorado for a long time, one of the leaders and best players on the team, the Avalanche will be a force to reckon with. Coming off a record-breaking championship season and having all the correct pieces to make another deep run for, and arguably win, the Stanley Cup again makes the team almost unstoppable.
Now, it’s just a matter of time to see the impact of MacKinnon’s new contract and what the Avalanche can do ito establish themselves as that championship team in the NHL.