The Colorado Avalanche will not burn the first year of Mikko Rantanen’s entry-level contract.
Colorado sent the rookie back to the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage on Saturday.
Rantanen dressed in his ninth game, a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, on Saturday.
The 19-year-old’s next NHL game would’ve burned the first year of his three-year, $4.975 million, entry-level deal.
“We’re not going to burn a year, first of all,” Avs' executive Joe Sakic told The Denver Post. “He will start next year.”
Sakic admitted the potential expansion draft played into the club’s decision to return Rantanen to the AHL.
“(Expansion rules) can change,” Sakic said. “It’s got to be negotiated, but in his first two years, he would be treated like a junior player. From our understanding, but not 100 percent, the first two years he won’t be exposed so you don’t have to protect them. So you can protect your other guys.
"If expansion (starts) in another year, he would be a one-year pro not a two. If we have to protect him, that’s a guy we’ll protect. You only so many players to protect.”
Rantanen was a minus-7 in nine games with the Avalanche while averaging just under nine minutes a night in ice time.
The Nousiainen, Finland native has appeared in 44 games with the Rampage this season scoring a team-leading 21 goals and 52 points.
Rantanen was the Avs' first-round pick, 10th overall, last June.