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Avalanche Mailbag: Rantanen’s Next Contract, Makar-Bedard Battles



Mikko Rantanen Avalanche center nhl

It might be August, but Colorado Avalanche fans still have questions.

This week, we’ll be discussing Mikko Rantanen’s next contract, future battles between Cale Makar and Connor Bedard, and the future of Justus Annunen, among other things.

From Son Huynh: How much do you think Mikko’s next contract will be? He has to be in the $12M AAV?

This is something we’ll dig into further in the future, but plan on it being a big number. A very big number.

At the bare minimum, I think you’re looking at the new David Pastrnak contract with an $11,250,000 cap hit until 2031. By the time Rantanen’s current contract is up, the cap is *supposed* to be significantly higher, somewhere in the mid-90’s. I’ll believe that when I see it, but if that does happen, you have to account for some inflation, so $12 million is on the table, especially if he has another monster season.

I’m not sure how many more comparables will pop up in the next year. William Nylander is due for a new contract next summer, but no one would pick him over Rantanen…right? We know it will be a lot of money, but Rantanen might reset the winger market with his next deal.

The good news (if you want to look at it this way) for the Avalanche is that Rantanen is already making $9,250,000, so he’s not going to be doubling his salary or anything. Still, another player making north of $11 million just makes drafting, developing, and finding value on the rest of the roster even more important.

From Kathryn Bartlett: What do you think the Makar-Bedard battles will look like over the next few seasons?

A lot of fun!

The Makar-McDavid battles are already incredibly fun to watch, so I’m looking forward to these. Now, I don’t think Bedard is at the level of McDavid, but Makar is the ultimate trump card Colorado holds in matchups like this.

While Makar and the rest of the team didn’t completely shut down McDavid during the 2022 playoffs, they did their best to limit him offensively. Other teams just don’t have a Makar on their side to match up against the elite forwards in the NHL, so the Avalanche are far better suited for situations like this.

All I know is I’ll be looking forward to those games. The NHL is terrible at promoting their stars, but games like that are what make the regular season enjoyable. Until Chicago builds around Bedard, the Avalanche should have the upper hand in these games.

From Travis Messall: Where is Annunen at development wise? I know goalies take a bit to develop, but it feels disappointing how he’s progressed. I would hope he’s meant to take over after the Georgiev contract is up but it doesn’t seem realistic at this point.

I wouldn’t say it’s been disappointing, personally. He took a big step last season. His save percentage jumped 23 points from the previous year. That’s huge.

As for taking over for Georgiev, that might be asking for too much. I’m not sure he has starter potential, but goalies are so difficult to judge. The hope, at least in my opinion, is that he has another strong year in the AHL and takes over the backup role in 2024/25. Pavel Francouz has one year left on his deal, and given his injury history and age, it might make sense to move on.

From Jackie: Which NHL cities are you looking forward to checking out?

I’ll be in LA for the season opener, or at least, that’s the plan. I’ve actually played in that arena back during my AAA hockey days, but it wasn’t called Arena back then, that’s for sure. I’ll be on celebrity watch that night.

Beyond that, the big city I’m looking forward to checking out is New York. I’m planning on being there right after the All-Star break when the Avalanche start their second half. Madison Square Garden is one I’ll get to check off the bucket list. I’m not sure how many other road games I’ll travel to, but catching a game down at Mullett Arena would be a fun experience.

From Bared Jednar: Scouting report on what we can expect from Ryan Johansen year 1?

I won’t give away too much, because I’ve got a big write-up coming on him over the next few days, but I’m just going to be fascinating to watch how this fit works. He isn’t too impressive in the Nashville games I’ve watched (7 to date), but you just never know how much a change of scenery will impact a player. Seeing as how Nashville gave him away for nothing, he has to be motivated going into next season. He’s already in Colorado training, so that’s a good first step.

From Jeremy Bourque: Big picture, there’s not forever left on the forward core (D is a different story). Mackinnon will be turning 28 before the season starts. Landeskog is going onto the back 9 now. Rantanen will be 27 by the end of October. How high is the pressure to win in the next 2-3 seasons?

The pressure is high, but the organization knows that. All the stars are in their prime, and with their salaries rising, it’ll be more and more difficult to win. That’s just the reality of the NHL.

There’s nothing that says you can’t win after your star players cross the age of 30. Ovechkin won in his 30’s, and Tampa has stayed awfully competitive with their stars reaching their 30’s. On the flip side, Sidney Crosby won his last Cup at 29, and I’m not so sure they’ll get back before he’s done playing.

Most of the pressure is created by the salary cap, though. Once you have a handful of players with very high cap hits, it’s tougher to build a team around them. I don’t expect guys like MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Makar to hit a wall anytime soon, but the best opportunity to win will be while the latter two are on their current contracts.

From Rick Bennett: Any appetite for helping Toronto cap dump Conor Timmins?

I was never super high on Timmins, although I do root for him, given all the concussion issues he’s dealt with. The last thing Colorado needs to do is add an injury-prone defenseman, in my opinion. I wish him well, but I’d rather look elsewhere.

From Brian Avs Fan: Do you think the Avs will sign another player what about Matt Dumba?

I wouldn’t be against signing Dumba, especially since he’s a right handed shot, but it would have to come cheap. I still think there’s a better deal out there for him than what the Avalanche could offer. He’d round out the defense nicely, though.

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