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TRANSLATION: Rantanen is not going to the KHL this season, but he has asked friends about playing in Russia

Mikko Rantanen plans to be in the NHL this year but doesn’t rule out the KHL down the road

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche - Game Four Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

With a number of his Colorado Avalanche teammates already skating together in Denver, restricted free agent Mikko Rantanen spoke to a Russian sports outlet on Thursday to discuss his contract negotiations and how he’s preparing for the upcoming season.

One of the best NHL forwards, Finnish star Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche has not yet signed a new contract with the team. The 22-year-old is preparing for the season in Hamar, Norway and journalist Dmitry Smirnov, interviewed him for BUSINESS online.

Last season, Rantanen with 87 (31 + 56) points (the same as Artemy Panarin ) finished 16th on the list of top league scorers but in the summer his rookie contract expired. The club almost immediately began negotiations to sign a new agreement, but the parties still have not agreed.

Rantanen chose Hamar as a training site for a reason. He is familiar with the head coach of the local “Storhamar” Miika Elomo from his first professional season. “I’m interested in Norway, Storhamar is a good professional club and training here is very helpful for me,” said Mikko.

Rantanen impressed the Storhamar players with openness. After team training, he told the young hockey players how best to prepare, and was not even shy about collecting the pucks . Usually this is done by the youngest player on the team. Mikko understands that he is temporarily in Norway, and is not worried by the uncertainty with the contract.

NHL clubs begin preparations for the new season in mid-September, and Rantanen is in no hurry to sign a contract with Colorado: “There is no specific date. Another month before the start of the season. And I’m getting ready here too. ”

Former Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers forward, BUSINESS Online expert Eric Christensen is confident that Rantanen will achieve his goal: “For a large part of last season, the Finn was the leader among league scorers, and this is no coincidence. Rantanen is the best power forward in the NHL at the moment, and he will get paid lot. Not less than 10 million dollars a year. ”

North American insiders claim that Rantanen will receive at least $ 10 million per season. And Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said the club prefers a long-term deal (the maximum duration of a contract in the NHL is eight years).

Smirnov asked Rantanen why he hasn’t agreed to a deal with the club - in terms of the contract or salary. But, of course, the Finn did not answer anything concrete: at stake is perhaps the biggest contract in his career. Mikko is only sure that he will sign a contract and will not miss the season in the NHL.

We remembered the Russian forward Nikita Kucherov, who made concessions to Tampa Bay and signed an eight-year contract with a salary of $ 9.5 million. “Each has its own situation. We have not yet agreed with the club”, Mikko answered.

This summer in the NHL there are a lot of restricted free agents who have not yet signed new contracts (Mitch Marner, Ivan Provorov, Matthew Tkachak and others). Nobody wants to take a discount: everyone has the example of Jack Eichel, who received $ 10 million a year from Buffalo.

In mid-July, Ak Bars traded for the rights to Rantanen with Neftekhimik. “I think Rantanen will sign a contract with Colorado.” We did not conduct negotiations with him. This is an acquisition with an eye to the future, to a possible lockout” said Rafik Yakubov, general manager of Kazan, to the R-Sport agency. A lockout may occur next fall.

Colorado was in no hurry to sign a new contract with Rantanen, and information soon came out that Kazan could take advantage of this. Ak Bars wanted to sign an annual agreement worth about $ 4 million.

Rantanen himself made it clear that for him the priority of the NHL: “If the team called, it is better to ask the agent. I personally have not heard anything concrete. For me, the only option is the NHL. And you never know how the future will be.”

At the same time, the Finnish forward does not rule out that he can move to another league one day - including the KHL.

“I asked some Finnish guys how they were in the KHL - they gave good reviews. But I asked more out of curiosity, not out of interest in playing there. But everything can be - the KHL is a good league.”

Reports are that Ak Bars is currently not negotiating with the player.