Mikko Rantanen said he and the Colorado Avalanche are making progress toward a new contract, according to the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.
The 22-year-old restricted free agent forward remains home in Finland and won’t be with the Avalanche at the start of training camp on Friday.
“I have to admit I’m having [a] kind of wait and see feeling, but I just need to stay calm,” Rantanen told the newspaper on Monday. “There’s no need to panic. I was prepared to stay in Finland longer than usual. So I was ready for this, and it is no shock for me to still be in Finland.
“We’re slowly moving forward but I have no schedule and I can’t say anything about the state of the negotiations.”
Rantanen had an NHL career-high 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists) in 74 games last season, second on the Avalanche behind center Nathan MacKinnon (99 points; 41 goals, 58 assists), and 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games for Colorado, which lost to the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round.
“For four years now, I’ve usually left for North America around the end of August,” Rantanen said. “All other NHL players, who also practiced in Turku [Finland], have already left, so in that sense it’s a little weird feeling to be still in Finland at this time.”
Selected by the Avalanche with the No. 10 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Rantanen has 209 points (80 goals, 129 assists) in 239 regular-season games and 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 18 playoff games through four seasons.
Rantanen is among a group of high-profile RFAs 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, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning and defensemen Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins and Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It makes things easier to know I’m not alone, and many other players are in the same situation,” Rantanen said. “It’s not just me and [Laine]. I’d be more anxious if I were the only one.”
Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said on Aug. 16 that contract talks with Rantanen likely would not resume until closer to training camp.
“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 has been keeping in shape by skating with Storhamar of GET-ligaen, the top professional league in Norway. The team posted a photo of him during a skate on Aug. 26.
NHL.com/fi senior writer Varpu Sihvonen contributed to this report