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Nathan MacKinnon just became the NHL’s highest paid player: Around the League

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
2 months ago
Welcome back to Around the League — a series in which we examine news from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Canucks-tinted lens.
Nathan MacKinnon just got paid. 
On Tuesday morning, the Colorado Avalanche announced that they had agreed to terms with their star centre on a max term eight-year contract extension worth a grand total of $100.8 million.
That means MacKinnon’s new deal — which kicks in next year — will carry an annual average value of $12.6 million, surpassing Connor McDavid’s cap hit of $12.5 million to make MacKinnon the league’s highest player.
This is a market-setting deal, to say the least.
Rumours continue to swirl about exactly how much the NHL’s salary cap will go up ahead of the 2024-25, but many believe that it will be from anywhere to seven to ten million total.
That means that any player signing a long term contract is certainly going to be cognizant of how high the salary cap will be in year three and beyond of any contract they sign today.
MacKinnon was long known as the NHL’s most underpaid star, as his current deal — which goes through to the end of this season — carries a cap hit of $6.3 million. MacKinnon has scored at a higher than point per game pace since the 2017-18 season, which was just the second year of his current seven year deal.
Last week, he said he was ready to move past the title of being the NHL’s most underpaid star, and boy, he certainly wasn’t kidding when he said that.
The cup-winning Avs now have everyone on their core signed through at least the 2024-25 season.
This really doesn’t mean much for the Canucks, and won’t mean much unless Elias Pettersson turns in two Hart Trophy-calibre seasons this year and next before entering contract negotiations ahead of the 2024-25 season, when the cap is expected to go up.
We’ll get there when we get there of course, but we certainly won’t say that Pettersson emerging as one of the league’s best centres in the next two seasons is out of the realm of possibility.

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