Nathan MacKinnon is ‘very close’ to extending his contract with the Avalanche.

Nathan MacKinnon could be on his way to becoming one of the NHL’s highest-paid players. During the NHL/NHLPA media tour near Las Vegas on Thursday, MacKinnon disclosed that he and the Colorado Avalanche are “very close” to reaching an agreement on a huge contract extension.

“We’re getting there,” MacKinnon remarked. “I’d rather it be finished. It becomes emotional. It might feel very intimate at times. I’d prefer to do it quickly so it doesn’t become a distraction.”

MacKinnon added that he would prefer to reach an agreement before the 2022–23 season begins in October. The 27-year-old star is ready to postpone negotiations until after the season is done if the two parties are unable to reach an agreement. His agent, Pat Brisson, also indicated that the parties are working to close a deal as quickly as possible.

I believe the agreement I sign will be just, MacKinnon continued. “Although the [salary cap hit] won’t be in the single digits or anything, I believe it will be beneficial for all parties. All I want to do is be in Denver.”

The Avalanche center would be a free agent at the end of the 2022–23 season under the terms of his current deal.

It’s entirely probable that MacKinnon’s new contract will make him the highest-paid player in the league after helping Colorado win a Stanley Cup last season. The star of the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid, signed an eight-year, $100 agreement in 2017. It is presently the richest contract in the sport. With a cap hit of $12.5 million, McDavid has the highest salary in the league right now.

MacKinnon has previously said he would accept less money if it meant the Avalanche could keep their entire roster. Colorado re-signed wings Artturi Lehkonen to a five-year, $22.5 million agreement and wings Valeri Nichuskin to an eight-year, $49 million extension in the off-season. Defenseman Cale Makar, who won the Norris Trophy in 2022, is also committed through the 2026–27 season after agreeing to a six-year, $54 million contract in 2021.

MacKinnon recently completed a campaign in which he scored 88 points (32 goals and 56 assists). In two of the previous three seasons, the Avalanche center was recognized as a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.