Nathan MacKinnon said he would take less money in his next contract to help the Colorado Avalanche in their effort to win the Stanley Cup.
"We have guys that we wouldn't (otherwise) be able to bring in," the 24-year-old center told Forbes on Wednesday. "On my next deal, I'll take less again because I want to win with this group."
MacKinnon is in the fourth season of a seven-year contract with an average annual value of $6.3 million, well below the contracts of other marquee players in the NHL.
"I was just excited to get paid that much money at such a young age," said MacKinnon, who was 20 in the summer of 2016. "Obviously, it's pretty (team) friendly now, but I was worth that at the time. ... I have no regrets."
When asked about thosee comments following a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, MacKinnon said he didn't see it as being underpaid at the time he signed the $44.1 million contract.
"I definitely didn't take a discount when I signed that deal," he said in Montreal. "I think that's totally fair for where I was at. Obviously, I'm thankful to be making the amount of money I'm making."
MacKinnon was selected by the Avalanche with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and won the Calder Trophy, voted NHL rookie of the year, after he had 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games. He took a step back in 2014-15, getting 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 64 games, and had 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 72 games in 2015-16 before signing his contract as a restricted free agent.
Video: COL@TOR: MacKinnon rips PPG into the top shelf
In his fourth season, MacKinnon had 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 82 games before blossoming into one of the top players in the NHL. He scored 97 points (39 goals, 58 points) in 2017-18 and was second to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils in voting for NHL MVP, then scored 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists) last season.
This season, he was tied for third in the NHL with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 27 games before playing Thursday.
Over the past three seasons, he ranks third in the League with 240 points (98 goals, 142 assists), trailing Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (275), who has a $12.5 million NHL salary cap charge, and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov (258), who is at $9.5 million.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, who was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, signed a five-year contract extension with an AAV of $11.634 million on Feb. 5. Matthews has never scored more than 73 points in three full NHL seasons.
This offseason, Colorado signed free agent forwards Joonas Donskoi (four years) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (two years), and acquired forward Andre Burakovsky in a trade with the Washington Capitals before signing him to a one-year contract.
Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon's linemate who is 20th in the NHL with 188 points (66 goals, 122 assists) in the past three seasons, missed most of training camp as a restricted free agent before signing a six-year contract on Sept. 28. It reportedly is worth more annually than MacKinnon's contract.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog can become an unrestricted free agent, and defenseman Cale Makar can become a restricted free agent, after next season. MacKinnon would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season.
"I think you want to get paid what you're worth," MacKinnon said. "I'd probably do the same thing. If a team isn't paying you what you think you're worth, holding out is something (players) are entitled to."