Mikko Rantanen was the second best player on the Colorado Avalanche this season. He finished the year with 84 points in 81 games and took a giant leap towards becoming one of the best right-wingers in the NHL. He finished 16th in the NHL scoring race this season and he did all this while on the second year of his entry-level contract.
Though the team still has more than a year to sign a second contract with the 21-year old, it might be in the best interest of everyone involved to get a long-term contract done this summer.
Starting July 1st, the Avalanche can start working on an extension with their star winger. Any deal will not kick in until the 2019-20 season, but why wait until next year? Joe Sakic knows that Rantanen is a part of the foundation of the franchise and that he will be a key part of any success the team has going forward.
There’s no need to sign Mikko to a bridge deal. The Tampa Bay Lightning gave Nikita Kucherov a shorter term contract in the summer of 2016 and it’s come back to bite them. Kucherov is also due for a new contract next summer and a long-term deal going to cost the Lightning a heck of a lot more than it would have two summers ago.
Now it’s time to give him the maximum 8-years to carry Mikko through his prime.
Last summer’s contracts for Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton or David Pasternak in Boston gave evidence that the NHL is moving away from bridge contracts - at least for their elite players.
How Big Will the Contract Be?
Whether he signs the contract this summer or next, Rantanen is going to get a huge raise. But how much?
There are a few players we can use as comparisons. This is what their contracts looked like when they were signed:
Leon Draisaitl - $8.5m for 8 years starting in 2017
David Pastrnak - $6.67m for 6 years starting in 2017
Vladimir Tarasenko - $7.5m for 8 years starting in 2015
Johnny Gaudreau - $6.75m for 6 years starting in 2016
Jakub Voracek - $8.25m for 8 years starting in 2016
Of these comparisons, Leon Draisaitl is probably the most relevant. He signed his deal the summer after his second full NHL season. A season in which he put up 29 goals and 77 assists while playing alongside an all-star center. For Rantanen’s agent, comparing the young Finn to Draisaitl makes all the sense in the world.
How much will the Avalanche Offer?
Contract negotiations are a two-way street. While Rantanen’s agent will likely be looking for a salary north of $8 million, the team has a couple of factors to worry about.
Cap space isn’t one of them. The Colorado Avalanche have more cap flexibility going forward than just about any team in the league. Thanks to great contracts for guys like Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, there is no real threat of the Avs running out of cap space for the next five years.
The problem is, those contracts for MacKinnon and Landeskog likely create a dynamic that puts Colorado’s cost structure in a different place than the rest of the league. While it’s easy to justify Rantanen in the $8.5m range, can you really justify him making nearly $2m more per season than MacKinnon?
If you’re paying a Hart Trophy nominee $6.3m, it’s hard to pay his winger much more than that.
If nothing else it will be an interesting negotiation. Luckily, Joe Sakic has more than a year to work on it - through the sooner they get Mikko locked up, the better.
How much will Mikko Rantanen’s extension be?
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