Throughout June, theScore will be projecting contracts for the star-studded restricted free-agent class. In this edition, we project Mikko Rantanen's new deal.
Rantanen has developed into one of the game's premier wingers after being selected 10th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the stacked 2015 NHL Draft.
Rantanen is a big-bodied playmaking winger and efficient goal-scorer. He's yet to surpass the 200-shot mark in a season but has a career shooting percentage of 15.6, signaling some untapped scoring potential.
The Finn has developed great chemistry with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog to form one of the NHL's most lethal lines. However, he's not simply a beneficiary of his surroundings. In the 122 five-on-five minutes Rantanen took the ice without MacKinnon and Landeskog, the Avs scored 83.3 percent of the goals and generated 55.7 percent of the high-danger scoring chances against their opponents.
The Avalanche might have the best long-term outlook of any organization in the league. They have premier players on team-friendly deals, young talent coming through the system, no terrible contracts, and ample draft-pick capital.
General manager Joe Sakic has a projected $37 million in cap space to work with. Fellow RFA forwards Alexander Kerfoot and J.T. Compher also need new contracts, but Rantanen should clearly be the top priority.
Given the financial flexibility and Rantanen's status as a core player, an eight-year contract would make sense for both sides. A max-term deal would require a greater cap hit, but the Avs have more than enough available space to make it work.
Here's a select list of wingers who signed contracts out of restricted free agency in the last few years:
|Player||Cap hit||CH%||Length||Year signed|
|William Nylander (TOR)||$6.9M*||8.67||6 years||2018|
|Nikita Kucherov (TB)||$9.5M||11.95||8 years||2018|
|Leon Draisaitl (EDM)||$8.5M||11.3||8 years||2017|
|David Pastrnak (BOS)||$6.6M||8.89||6 years||2017|
|Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)||$6.75M||9.25||6 years||2016|
|Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)||$7.5M||10.27||8 years||2015|
CH% = Cap hit percentage, based on cap ceiling when the contract was signed
* - Nylander's cap hit in 2018-19 was prorated to $10.2 million because of time missed in negotiations
Draisaitl is listed among the comparable players despite splitting his time between center and wing throughout his career. He tallied 77 points in his contract year, but his deal now looks like a bargain after a 105-point campaign in 2018-19.
The Tampa Bay Lightning got a bargain with Kucherov, the likely Hart Trophy winner. Florida has no state income tax, so Bolts players receive a higher percentage of their salary than someone who plays, for example, in Colorado, which has a 4.63 percent income tax rate. This allows teams like the Lightning to sign their players to a lower cap hit, so it wouldn't be shocking if Rantanen's deal exceeds Kucherov's.
Rantanen's contract could largely depend on when he signs. If fellow RFA wingers Mitch Marner or Matthew Tkachuk sign first, it'll offer the best comparable for Rantanen's camp to look at in negotiations.
At the very minimum, Rantanen's cap hit will start with a nine if he signs an eight-year deal. It's also quite possible that annual figure enters double digits.
Verdict: 8 years, $80 million ($10 million AAV, 12.05 CH%)
(Advanced stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick)
Others in this series: