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Rantanen says NHL is 'only option' this season: report

Avalanche forward training with team in Norway while waiting for contract

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Mikko Rantanen has no desire to play anywhere but the NHL this season, the forward told Russia's Sport Business Online.

The 22-year-old became a restricted free agent July 1 and has yet to reach an agreement on a contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He set NHL career highs in goals (31), assists (56) and points (87) last season, and had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

When questioned about a report this summer that Ak Bars Kazan had offered him $4 million to play in the Kontinental Hockey League this season, Rantanen reaffirmed his desire to stay in the NHL.

"Whether that team got in touch, it's better to check with my agent. I personally haven't heard anything," Rantanen told the website in comments translated by NHL.com. "The only option for me is the NHL. And you never know what the future holds."

Rantanen has been skating with a professional team in Norway while he remains without a contract.

"There's no deadline," Rantanen said. "It's still a month to go before the regular season. And I'm having pretty good training conditions here (in Norway)."

Selected by Colorado in the first round (No. 10) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Rantanen has 209 points (80 goals, 129 assists) in 239 NHL games.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said Aug. 16 that contract talks with Rantanen likely would not resume until closer to training camp, which begins Sept. 13.

"We haven't had much dialogue since the [2019 NHL] Draft but camp's coming around so there'll be pressure on both sides," Sakic said. "Looking forward to the opportunity to have Mikko back, and I'm sure he'll be back here."

Rantanen is among a group of high-profile restricted free agents who remain unsigned, including forwards Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks, Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, and defensemen Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins, Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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