February 25, 2024


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“Game-Changer Alert: $55.5M Avalanche Winger’s Mega-Extension Signals Bright Future, But at What Cost?”

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Avalanche Winger's Mega-Extension

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche reacts after scoring a goal during the third period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on April 09, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“Game-Changer Alert: $55.5M Avalanche Winger’s Mega-Extension Signals Bright Future, But at What Cost?”. The Colorado Avalanche’s Contract Dilemma and the Potential Addition of Phil Kessel

The Colorado Avalanche is at a pivotal juncture in their quest to establish themselves as a dominant force in the NHL. The re-signing of talented winger Mikko Rantanen has become a topic of intense debate among fans and observers. The crux of the matter revolves around whether the Avalanche can accommodate annual salaries exceeding $10 million for three key players: Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Nathan MacKinnon.

The Mikko Rantanen Contract Conundrum:

The Athletic’s Peter Baugh recently delved into this burning issue when responding to a question in his Colorado Avalanche mailbag. Concerns were raised about the financial feasibility of maintaining a trio of superstars with hefty salaries. Baugh offered insight into the situation, highlighting that the salary cap in the NHL is expected to rise in the coming years. This expansion of the cap will make annual salaries exceeding $10 million increasingly common.

Baugh contends that the Avalanche can indeed afford to re-sign Rantanen, who currently has two years left on his deal. However, he acknowledges that doing so might necessitate sacrifices in other areas of the roster. Baugh emphasizes the significance of retaining a core comprising Rantanen, Makar, and MacKinnon, considering it a worthwhile investment for the franchise’s future success. He also stressed that finding a player of Rantanen’s caliber at a lower cost in the open market is highly improbable.

“Game-Changer Alert: $55.5M Avalanche Winger’s Mega-Extension Signals Bright Future, But at What Cost?”

Avalanche Winger's Mega-Extension


“It kinda feels like we’ve gotta start talking about what it’s going to take to re-sign Mikko Rantanen at some point. Can this team really afford to be paying $10 million-plus annual salaries to Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko? Even if we can, should we spread the wealth out evenly a little more?” — Mike K.

Baugh said:

“It’s important to remember the salary cap will go up in the coming years. Players making more than $10 million annually will be more and more common. The Avalanche will be able to afford Rantanen, who has two years left on his deal, but it might require making sacrifices in other areas of the roster.”

Learning from the Tampa Bay Lightning:

To illustrate his point, Peter Baugh drew a parallel with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who managed to capture the Stanley Cup in 2021 despite having several players with contracts exceeding 10% of the salary cap. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, and Steven Stamkos were among these high earners. This example underscores the importance of astute talent scouting and player development in building a strong supporting cast around star players with substantial contracts in the NHL.

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The Case for Phil Kessel:

Shifting gears, the Colorado Avalanche appear to be in an advantageous position to acquire unrestricted free agent Phil Kessel. Their current objective of bolstering their forward depth aligns seamlessly with Kessel’s established skill set in both playmaking and goal-scoring.

What makes Kessel particularly intriguing for the Avalanche is his potential chemistry with top players like Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Placing Kessel on the second line could allow the Avalanche to capitalize on his ability to complement the playing styles of these dynamic stars. The prospect of this trio working together is undeniably enticing for fans and observers alike.

The Colorado Avalanche faces a critical decision regarding the re-signing of Mikko Rantanen, but the promise of a rising salary cap offers hope. Peter Baugh’s analysis suggests that maintaining a core of elite players might require sacrifices in other areas. Furthermore, the potential addition of Phil Kessel could further enhance the Avalanche’s offensive firepower. As the team strives to solidify its position as an NHL contender, these strategic moves will play a pivotal role in shaping its future success.

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