The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Mikko Rantanen to a six-year contract through the 2024-25 season.
Rantanen, 22, finished second on the Avalanche in scoring during the 2018-19 season with a career-high 87 points (31g/56a) in 74 games. He surpassed the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career and joined Chris Drury as the only players in Avalanche history to score 20-plus goals in each of his first three NHL seasons (Drury accomplished the feat in his first four campaigns). Rantanen's 56 assists also set a personal best and ranked second on the team. He led the club with 16 power-play goals, tied for sixth in the NHL, and the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic scored 16 in 2006-07. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right wing finished third on the club in goals and fourth in plus/minus rating (+13).
Video: CGY@COL, Gm4: Rantanen ties game late, wins it in OT
Colorado's first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Rantanen went on to lead Colorado in playoff scoring with 14 points (6g/8a) in 12 games, the highest total by an Avalanche player in the postseason since 2002 (Peter Forsberg 27, Sakic 19). Rantanen's 14 points tied for the league lead through two rounds, while his 1.17 points-per-game average finished as the highest among all NHL players who appeared in at least eight postseason contests. Rantanen also led the club in playoff assists and tied Nathan MacKinnon for the team lead in goals.
"Signing Mikko to a long-term deal has been a priority, and we are excited to have him under contract for the next six years," said Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic. "Mikko has established himself as one of the premier young wingers in the NHL and is a big part of our core group. We look forward to having him back with the team as we get ready to start the season."
Rantanen's 87 points during the regular season ranked fifth among NHL right wings and were the second-most by a player at that position in Avalanche history (since 1995-96), trailing only Milan Hejduk's 98 in 2002-03. No Colorado right wing has ever produced more assists in a season than Rantanen's 56.
A native of Nousiainen, Finland, Rantanen was the first NHL player to reach the 30, 40 and 50-point marks in 2018-19, and he reached the 60-point mark just a few hours after Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov on Dec. 27. Rantanen, who was selected to his first career NHL All-Star Game, held at least a share of the scoring lead for 66 consecutive days from Oct. 23 to Dec. 27. He was the outright scoring leader for 60 of those 66 days, including the last 43 in a row before being passed by Kucherov.
Video: MTL@COL: MacKinnon feeds Rantanen after turnover
Rantanen was only the second Avalanche player to lead the league in points (59) at the NHL's Holiday Break, joining Forsberg (48 points) in 1997-98. His 59 points at Christmas were the most since Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby had 60 in 2010-11. Rantanen was the fastest player in Avalanche history to reach 60 points (38 team games), three contests quicker than Forsberg in 1995-96.
Rantanen's 2018-19 highlights included being named the NHL's First Star of the Month for October after tying Sakic's 1996-97 Avalanche records for points (21) and assists (16) in that month. Rantanen tallied points in each of his first nine games, tying the Avs record for the longest point streak to start a season, and had assists in each of his first eight games, the second-longest streak to begin a season in franchise history. He compiled a career-high 14-game point streak from Nov. 18-Dec. 15, tied for the third longest in the NHL in 2018-19.
Entering what will be his fourth full NHL season in 2019-20, Rantanen has accumulated 209 points (80g/129a) in 239 career regular-season contests, while adding 18 points (6g/12a) in 18 playoff outings. He finished second on the Avalanche in scoring during the 2017-18 season with 84 points (29g/55a) in 81 games, which were the most points by a Finnish-born player at the time since Teemu Selanne (94 with Anaheim) and Olli Jokinen (91 with Florida) in 2006-07. As a rookie in 2016-17, Rantanen led the Avalanche with 20 goals, tied for fifth among all first-year players.
On the international stage, Rantanen represented his country at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 IIHF World Championships, as well as the 2015 and 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships. He captained his nation to the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship and won a silver at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
Rantanen played his first professional season in North America with the San Antonio Rampage in 2015-16, where he was the co-winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the American Hockey League's most outstanding rookie. He was also named to the AHL Second All-Star Team and AHL All-Rookie Team that season after leading the Rampage in scoring with 60 points (24g/36a) in 52 games. His 60 points finished second among AHL rookies and ninth overall in the league.
Prior to being drafted, Rantanen played for TPS in the Finnish Elite League (Liiga) in 2014-15, where he finished second on the team with 28 points (9g/19a) in 56 games. He joined the TPS junior club during the 2015 playoffs, helping the squad win the league championship with 14 points (6g/8a) in seven contests en route to winning the Ville Peltonen Award as the league's best postseason player.