Did the Oilers make a mistake signing Hall and Eberle to matching cap hits?

Jonathan Willis
September 01 2013 08:51AM

When the Oilers signed young stars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to long-term extensions with matching $6 million/season cap hits, they set a benchmark for their key young players.

Was that an error?

Recent Contracts

The chart above shows long, big-dollar extensions for young forwards with minimal NHL experience signed between 2011 and 2013 and is ordered by points per 82 games at the time of the contract being signed.

Aside from Steven Stamkos – the clear leader of the pack in terms of production – all of the contracts come in at $6.0 million or less, putting Hall and Eberle near the top of the chart in terms of compensation. In fairness, they’re also near the top of the chart in terms of point production – with the caveat that Eberle’s performance came at an older age than most of these players.

The number that stands out is John Tavares’ contract, not just against the Oilers’ stars but also in comparison to the field. Whoever negotiated that contract for the New York Islanders did a nice job knocking that contract down to $5.5 million per season.

The Problem

The trouble for the Oilers is that they aren’t signing one or even two star forwards – they’re signing four of them. And by signing Hall and Eberle to $6.0 million contracts, they’ve made it very difficult to extend Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who is at the same point in his entry-level deal as Hall and Eberle were when they were extended) or Nail Yakupov to a deal at less than that $6.0 million.

Imagining that chart above without Hall and Eberle, what kind of extension would Nugent-Hopkins be looking at? Six years, somewhere between $5.5 and $5.75 million maybe, falling right between Tavares and Skinner? Nugent-Hopkins’ agent might point to Matt Duchene, but Duchene agreed to a two-year bridge contract before he got his big-money extension.

In hindsight, there’s an argument to be made that Hall and Eberle are slightly overpaid relative to their peers. We aren’t talking major dollars, but Hall’s performance is in that same Tavares/Skinner range and Eberle is both older than these other players and was less highly-regarded in his draft year. The word hindsight is used because that’s what this is – it’s worth remembering the labour uncertainty when Hall and Eberle signed their extensions.

But if we imagine Eberle and Hall signing at around Skinner dollars – say Hall at $5.7 million and Eberle at $5.8 million – that’s $500,000 in cap space per year over the next six seasons. If we further imagine that Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov ended up signing extensions south of $6.0 million, we might be looking at $1.0 million in cap space being saved every year for the next six to seven seasons. That kind of space can help a smart general manager a lot, or compensate for overpaying a player like Eric Belanger or Ben Eager.

Ifs And Buts

There is a lot of projection and imagining and 20/20 hindsight in a piece like this, which is one of the reasons the idea has sat on a notepad for a few months rather than being developed. But I eventually chose to write it up because I think the primary point is valid. Establishing a benchmark for the Oilers’ young stars would have been a positive if the benchmark was lower than the league payment for these kinds of players. Instead it now looks like the Oilers are paying more than the standard going rate.

Because there are four (five, if one includes Justin Schultz, though I’ve excluded him because I think he falls into a different category) of these contracts to do, and because they’re all long-term deals, even a small overpay is magnified.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the Oilers do with Nugent-Hopkins. At this point, a new general manager might make the case that he isn’t bound by a benchmark set by his predecessor, and that Nugent-Hopkins deal (particularly given his low totals in 2013) should look more like Landeskog’s, or Tavares’, or Skinner’s than it does Eberle’s or Hall’s.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Thomas Drance concludes the site's countdown of Vancouver's top prospects with their pick for the team's best - Brendan Gaunce. There's a lot to like about Gaunce, but there are also concerns about his ceiling:

Gaunce is probably the safest bet among Canucks prospects to emerge as an NHL regular. He's also probably the third most likely player on this list to see NHL action this upcoming season (behind only Corrado and perhaps Eddie Lack). The harder question to answer when it comes to Gaunce's development, in my view, is whether or not he has the offensive upside to project as a top-six forward at the NHL level.

Click the link above to read more, or check out some of my recent stuff:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 D
September 01 2013, 09:23AM
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In my opinion, the Oilers did not make a mistake signing Hall and Eberle to these numbers.

This question goes beyond hitting the sweet spot in terms of compensation in comparison to other players. It goes to the whole culture and reputation of the Edmonton Oilers.

This is an organization that since the late 1980's has earned a reputation of being "small market" and "tight budget". By signing Eberle and Hall to lucrative contracts with no public acrimony during negotiations, Daryl Katz has changed the perception of the Oilers in the NHL when it comes to finances.

A slight overpay for Hall, Eberle, RNH, Schultz and Yak City seems preferable over contract holdouts, tense negotiations, and the Oilers can't pay me full market value, so I want to test free agency.

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#2 Smythyyy
September 01 2013, 09:02AM
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They're good contracts imho. If anything we're overpaying the bottom 6 forwards. If all of the young stars sign at the benchmark ($6/yr) and we get average contracts for the role players then that's very doable, we'll be able to keep them all (with the caveat that the cap will go higher as projected). The problem starts if any of RNH, Yak, JSchultz start asking for more than $6M and we keep overpaying the depth roles.

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#3 Spydyr
September 01 2013, 09:22AM
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Smart thinking there pi$$ of Nuge to save $300,000 a year.Not.

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#4 madjam
September 01 2013, 09:30AM
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Their contracts and length are value contracts . So should be the other youth if stars are emerging . The problem lies more in signing supportive /depth staff to exhorbitant raises , such as Ference and Gordon .

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#5 @Oilanderp
September 01 2013, 09:58AM
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Before those contracts are expired, they both will be of immense value... no matter where Eberle is playing.

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#6 OBM
September 01 2013, 09:42AM
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I don't care how they do it, but they need to get all of them signed. The big 5 (Hall, Ebs, RNH, JS, and Nail) are the ones that will move this team. If management waits any longer they will be running into the problem of Nail and RNH potentially out performing Hall and Ebs (50/50 chance of happening) costing the team > 6M to sign. The Oilers should not screw around if these odds are presented to them. When it's all said, pay them all between 5.5-6M, and deal with it. At least all your eggs will be in your own basket to break. No other GM will be able to crack them.

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#7 Thumby
September 01 2013, 10:15AM
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I think the contracts for Hall & Eberle made sense. These guys are good friends, and excellent players. I dont think we get them both to sign long term unless we did both of them at similar term and dollars.

Yes, they were overpaid for the first 2 years on these contracts...Hall, however, may soon be viewed as a value contract if he takes another step forward this year. I also think Ebele will have a much better year given he played with a hand injury last season.

The future will tell, but if taken in context of % of total cap hit, they could acutally look quite decent for the last half of their terms.

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#8 magisterrex
September 01 2013, 09:34AM
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After all those years where we couldn't land free agents, and shipped off stars due to both real and perceived budget constraints, we finally make a statement that the Oilers are a premiere destination. And there's always somebody who finds fault with whatever the Oilers management team does. I'm just surprised its you, Johnathan, as you typically are far more astute in your analysis.

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#10 Racki
September 01 2013, 10:10AM
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I know you can't rely on "should be", but the salary cap is expected to go up a fair margin in the next few years. I have no problem with these extensions. Sometimes you just need to pay a player what you think is their value rather than pinching pennies. They probably could have gotten better deals with Eberle or Hall, if they waited longer, I suppose, but me, I'm just glad those deals are done.

There is a fine balance though.. sometimes I really dislike long term deals because some players seem to start thinking more about their long term health rather than playing at a high level, and they get pretty comfortable just taking the money in. I don't see that in Eberle or Hall though, but you just never know. Everyone seems to play their a-- off when their contracts are up for renewal.. however that's a dangerous game for a GM to play.

Anyways, a bridge contract would have been nice.... but once that deal was done, the number would be NORTH of $6M, almost guaranteed, because that market value for top end talent will be climbing again as the cap goes up. They skipped the salary savings at a time when they don't really need the cap savings (the Oilers aren't struggling) in favor of a time when they more than likely will.

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#12 Marc
September 01 2013, 10:49AM
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Sloppy Joe wrote:

The Hall contract is brilliant, and one of the few bright spots from the Tambellini regime, IMO. This contract will keep looking better and better as Hall continues his "supernova" trajectory (to steal a phrase from Lowetide).

The Eberle contract is less brilliant - my understanding is that they signed him a year before they had to (correct me if I'm wrong), and on the tail end of his "crazy high shooting percentage" season. Hindsight is 20/20, however, so we shouldn't have too much sand in our collective panties over this one. Six million might be a little high for he player at this point in time, but I think we can be pretty confident about the cap increasing quite substantially over the term of the CBA (the owners can't help themselves), and the number will look better/more acceptable with each passing year.

As for Nuge and Yak, I think MacT might get some traction negotiating on the basis that the $6 million figure was Tambellini's benchmark, and there is a new world order with the new GM. Having said that, I won't be too upset if both get signed long term for 6 million - I am confident that both will end up covering that bet.

After two seasons in the NHL, Eberle's numbers were better than Hall in every measurable way - goals, assists, points and points per game, +/- - Eberle was better in all of them. Because of the CBA, he also earned less than Hall, despite being more productive (and that's not even including the fact that Hall got to start his ELC a year earlier instead of earning nothing in jr for his draft +1 year).

There is absolutely no way that Eberle could have been signed to a contract at that point that was less valuable than one offered to Hall. They either get the same deal, or Eberle gets slightly more - but a scenario in which Eberle signed for less than Hall after 2 seasons simply wasn't a possibility.

They could have waited until this offseason to start negotiating of course, and might have saved a bit of money on Eberle as his shooting percentage fell. But I suspect any such savings would have been eaten up (and more) by the extra cash that Hall could have asked for in season when he was the second best LW in the entire league.

If you like the Hall contract then you have to accept the Eberle contract as a necessary part of it. There is no way the Hall contract could have been done without giving Eberle at least as much.

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#13 Quicksilver ballet
September 01 2013, 08:59AM
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Thought there should've first been a 4.5'ish multi yr deal squeezed in there somewhere, before making that kind of financial leap. Lets face it, without these kids, there'd be no hope for the Oilers return to respectability. They're really our only hope now, and they're being paid as such. With management choosing this route, it could be nearly impossible to achieve any sort of competitive depth. To be a definite non playoff, and a cap team, well that's not a financial problem. That's a management problem.

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#14 Bushed
September 01 2013, 09:45AM
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The Blackhawks managed to restock their roster after losing players to higher contract offers from other teams, and even won a second cup in a few years' time.

MacT will likewise have to make moves and decisions to build this team. If Hemsky is traded or resigns for less, there's a few extra dollars. Cap goes up, a few more. Trade Schultz, more room. The trick is to fill holes with value signings (like the Hawks did, and as madjam points out above). It's a moving target, but that's part of the GM's job.

If a skill contract has to be moved, Gagner might be the first to be considered, rather than Eberle, but we'll see who performs better moving forward.

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#15 Sloppy Joe
September 01 2013, 10:07AM
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The Hall contract is brilliant, and one of the few bright spots from the Tambellini regime, IMO. This contract will keep looking better and better as Hall continues his "supernova" trajectory (to steal a phrase from Lowetide).

The Eberle contract is less brilliant - my understanding is that they signed him a year before they had to (correct me if I'm wrong), and on the tail end of his "crazy high shooting percentage" season. Hindsight is 20/20, however, so we shouldn't have too much sand in our collective panties over this one. Six million might be a little high for he player at this point in time, but I think we can be pretty confident about the cap increasing quite substantially over the term of the CBA (the owners can't help themselves), and the number will look better/more acceptable with each passing year.

As for Nuge and Yak, I think MacT might get some traction negotiating on the basis that the $6 million figure was Tambellini's benchmark, and there is a new world order with the new GM. Having said that, I won't be too upset if both get signed long term for 6 million - I am confident that both will end up covering that bet.

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#16 michael
September 01 2013, 10:28AM
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The cap is going nowhere but up after this season. The TV contract for HNIC will be renegotiated and CBC will no longer have the exclusivity on Saturday nights that they have enjoyed for decades. TSN and Sportsnet will remain 2/3 but the tv contract will add at least another 100 million or so to HRR per year. Never mind that the NBC contract will need to be redone and NBC knows that the NHL is the one sports product where it can grow its advertising revenue.

The move of the Islanders to Barclays Arena will improve league gate revenue. Also the addition of new arenas in Edmonton and Calgary in the next few years will also help the leagues bottom line. The sale of the Yotes will also help the bottom line. The wild card is expansion. How much will Markham and QC pay for new franchises. I imagine Markham is a special case. I'd say 3-400 million? QC 200 million.

My point is that what is occurring will increase the leagues salary cap upwards into the 85 million dollar area. What is seen as a overpay now will seem a bargain moving forward. 6x5 is 30 million. With 55 million or so left over for another 18 players. It seems less likely we'll have the issues we had back in the late 80's concerning affordability.

Hall and Ebs bring different thing to the table. Yak,RNH and JS same deal. Though they differ a base as has been established gives players like RNH,Yak and JS a ceiling with which to negotiate. Unless one of them knocks it out of the park I think we'll see contracts comparable to Hall and Ebs. And for me that is just what the team needs to compete longterm.

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#17 jonny94
September 01 2013, 10:43AM
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I think both Eberle and Halls contract are good, as long as they make a standard that no player on the Oilers roster makes more then Hall/Eberle then these contracts are steals.

I just recently picked up SportsNets pool projection for 2013/2014 and Hall is projected to be the #1 best LW in the NHL and Eberle is projected at #5 overall on RW, now clearly these are projections but if either of these guys live close to those projections were laughing cause these guys are only getting better and trending up.

I've said this before but if RNH and Nail want to negotiate a contract extension do it now for less, they will live up to their expectations. If you wait it out they might end up with larger contracts then anticipated IMHO.

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#18 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 01 2013, 11:47AM
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Hall and Ebs deals Good

Side by side in big boy beds

They're best friends you know

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#19 fastoil
September 01 2013, 09:10AM
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I don't think Eberle deserves the same money as Hall.

Hall had shown dominance already, Eberle had shown a lot of holes in his game and a high SH%.

Hall has an extra year, yes. Just seems the best should be paid the most. They had better sign Hopkins Yak and JS soon before the rising cap escalates salaries and they have to be paid more than Hall.

Maybe first trade Eberle for Pietrangelo to rectify things.

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#20 Sloppy Joe
September 01 2013, 10:18AM
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Racki wrote:

I know you can't rely on "should be", but the salary cap is expected to go up a fair margin in the next few years. I have no problem with these extensions. Sometimes you just need to pay a player what you think is their value rather than pinching pennies. They probably could have gotten better deals with Eberle or Hall, if they waited longer, I suppose, but me, I'm just glad those deals are done.

There is a fine balance though.. sometimes I really dislike long term deals because some players seem to start thinking more about their long term health rather than playing at a high level, and they get pretty comfortable just taking the money in. I don't see that in Eberle or Hall though, but you just never know. Everyone seems to play their a-- off when their contracts are up for renewal.. however that's a dangerous game for a GM to play.

Anyways, a bridge contract would have been nice.... but once that deal was done, the number would be NORTH of $6M, almost guaranteed, because that market value for top end talent will be climbing again as the cap goes up. They skipped the salary savings at a time when they don't really need the cap savings (the Oilers aren't struggling) in favor of a time when they more than likely will.

I mostly agree with you.

You make an excellent point about bridge contracts - look no farther at how f$%#ed the Canadiens are going to be with Subban, and your point is essentially proven.

My only complaint (and I admit it is nit-picking somewhat) is that they could have / should have held off on signing Eberle for one season, instead of inking him immediately after his "crazy high shooting percentage" year. Having said that, I appreciate that they wanted to get him signed before the lockout, and they may have wanted to lock him down before someone came in with an offer sheet (which seems a remote possibility given how rare offer sheets seem to be, but still a valid concern).

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#21 Racki
September 01 2013, 10:40AM
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pkam: Claude Giroux is an excellent example of why I'm saying a bridge contract isn't as good as some people think sometimes. Good example. For those doubting that, do you think the Flyers would rather have paid Giroux $6M for those first few seasons to get him at $6M until 2022? Damn rights they would have. Now they might not have been able to get him that cheap for that long, but even for $7M they would have preferred it to $8.275M.

It's a big gamble, but you have to do your best to really judge what kind of player you have. If you think they're high end talent, go for it. If you're unsure what you have, then you wait.

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#22 Bushed
September 01 2013, 12:04PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The Oilers are a long way from being the Blackhawks in virtually every way.

Yes, MacT has his work cut out for himself.

But nowhere did I say the Oilers were the Blackhawks, only that like the Hawks, MacT would have to re-shuffle his roster using value contracts "to build this team".

I do hope that in a few years the Oilers will compare favorably to the current Hawks lineup, but not there yet...

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#23 pkam
September 01 2013, 10:28AM
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To be fair, the comparison should list the pts per 82 games when the player signed the contract, not the pts per 82 games at this moment. Another factor to be considered is the salary cap when the contract was signed. The next factor I would consider is the number of NHL games the players had played when they signed their contracts. The last factor is the projection of their potential.

IMO, the contract for Hall and Eberle are very reasonable, or very good. Hall and Eberle have similar, if not better pts per 82 games than Taveres when they signed their contracts. And the salary cap is lower by about 10% when Taverse signed compare to Hall and Eberle (64.3M vs 70.2M), so if Taveres contact is a great signing, I can't see why Hall and Eberle's contracts are not as great.

A bridge contract is a different way to gamble. You win if the player doesn't pan out but lose when he does. If you believe the player is going to improve, it is better to sign him early. Just look at PK Subban and Claude Giroux. Canadiens can lock up Subban at around 6M last year, now they probably have to pay him 7.5M - 8M next year. And how much do you think the Flyers could lock up Giroux 3 years ago?

We don't want to overpay our core players, but at the same time, the last thing we want to do is to piss our core players but underpaying them but a few hundred thousand. Just look at what happen to Senators. A happy player will be better than a piss off player and a few hundred thousand saving in salary, especially for our core players, IMO.

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#24 Supernova
September 01 2013, 07:42PM
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As a management team if your sure that the players are difference makers you don't want a bridge contract. You only want a bridge deal if you are unsure.

Zero issue with future cap space as well.

Hall $6 Ebs $6 RNH ~$6 Yak ~$6 JS ~$5

Under 30 million for a stellar core, every team would take that. If you don't have the cap space to fill out that roster you are either an idiot or you acquired a Weber type contract. By the time Yak's contract would kick in the cap will be mid 70's.

40 million to fill out the roster is ample space, especially if you don't over pay on 4th liners

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#25 Racki
September 01 2013, 10:33AM
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Sloppy Joe wrote:

I mostly agree with you.

You make an excellent point about bridge contracts - look no farther at how f$%#ed the Canadiens are going to be with Subban, and your point is essentially proven.

My only complaint (and I admit it is nit-picking somewhat) is that they could have / should have held off on signing Eberle for one season, instead of inking him immediately after his "crazy high shooting percentage" year. Having said that, I appreciate that they wanted to get him signed before the lockout, and they may have wanted to lock him down before someone came in with an offer sheet (which seems a remote possibility given how rare offer sheets seem to be, but still a valid concern).

While I do understand your point and agree somewhat re: the shooting %, I think some people focus far too much on that. For instance, Eberle fell back down into a more maintainable 12.0% last year and still managed to be on pace for 27 goals. It's no 34 goals, no, but we also have to remember that Eberle was hampered by a wrist injury and was having some issues getting the puck up in some situations. If he's still putting up 27 goals (well, on pace) with that kind of problem, I am thinking he'll be worth the value.

Of course, his deal came before the 27 goal season and after his "crazy high shooting percentage" year, so you can definitely say the Oilers took a risk.. but I just think last year showed it will pay off, even though he did take a hit. This year will hopefully be more telling (in a positive way) that the gamble was worth it.

But I suppose you'd be right in thinking that they probably could have negotiated the same deal after waiting to see how last season went. I don't think I would have paid him any differently though as I believe that last year was more the anomaly due to the wrist issue than the "crazy high shoot%" year was. And he still managed to have a fairly good year, all considered, scoring wise, tying Hall for goals scored (he did it in 45 gp though) and one behind leader Yak.

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#26 michael
September 01 2013, 10:36AM
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Off topic. Watching Antonio Esfandiary play some chick in heads up poker championship last night on TSN? and as I was watching there in the audience was a guy with a classic Oilers sweater. Nice to see Oilers fans are out there everywhere.

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#27 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 01 2013, 11:44AM
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michael wrote:

Off topic. Watching Antonio Esfandiary play some chick in heads up poker championship last night on TSN? and as I was watching there in the audience was a guy with a classic Oilers sweater. Nice to see Oilers fans are out there everywhere.

I saw that too. Antonio knocked off Jennifer Tilley, but the Oil jersey in the background was classic

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#28 Spydyr
September 01 2013, 09:56AM
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Bushed wrote:

The Blackhawks managed to restock their roster after losing players to higher contract offers from other teams, and even won a second cup in a few years' time.

MacT will likewise have to make moves and decisions to build this team. If Hemsky is traded or resigns for less, there's a few extra dollars. Cap goes up, a few more. Trade Schultz, more room. The trick is to fill holes with value signings (like the Hawks did, and as madjam points out above). It's a moving target, but that's part of the GM's job.

If a skill contract has to be moved, Gagner might be the first to be considered, rather than Eberle, but we'll see who performs better moving forward.

The Oilers are a long way from being the Blackhawks in virtually every way.

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#29 Naky
September 01 2013, 11:15AM
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People have to remember, the 1sts are all making nearly 4m a year in their entry levels. 3.75m with all the very easily attainable bonuses. A 4.5m bridge contract or whatever the heck people are suggesting is not much of a pay raise for players who are leading the team offensive and will for years to come.

I think the Oilers have done the right thing and simply stepped up to give them the money the players will be happy with for long term reasons and they aren't going to bother to quibble over 300-500k per like they have in the past. They clearly didn't want another Mike Comrie/Ryan Smyth situation and they definitely don't want to lose any of them the instant their UFA status is reached because they spent their RFA years being forced to take lesser pay (kind of like Kadri is right now). Also keep in mind that their UFA status will be sooner than most UFAs as they all started as 18/19 year olds (except Eberle/Schultz).

Is it a lot of money? Yeah, but we all knew that was going to be the problem the moment we had 3 number one overall picks. These players won't be cheap and we all knew it. The key is trying to develop or acquire enough offensive skill around them that is cheaper and can put up good numbers so that we can turn a Nuge/Yak/Eberle/Hall contract into the kind of quality - but cheaper - pieces we need down the road if we were really forced to via trade and man... I'd hate to be the GM who has to make that move.

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#30 oilbaron
September 01 2013, 02:32PM
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Did the Oilers make a mistake signing Hall and Eberle to matching cap hits?

no.

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#31 THRNHJE
September 01 2013, 06:52PM
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@Marc

Sloppy Joe wrote: After two seasons in the NHL, Eberle's numbers were better than Hall in every measurable way - goals, assists, points and points per game, +/- - Eberle was better in all of them. Because of the CBA, he also earned less than Hall, despite being more productive (and that's not even including the fact that Hall got to start his ELC a year earlier instead of earning nothing in jr for his draft +1 year).

There is absolutely no way that Eberle could have been signed to a contract at that point that was less valuable than one offered to Hall. They either get the same deal, or Eberle gets slightly more - but a scenario in which Eberle signed for less than Hall after 2 seasons simply wasn't a possibility.

They could have waited until this offseason to start negotiating of course, and might have saved a bit of money on Eberle as his shooting percentage fell. But I suspect any such savings would have been eaten up (and more) by the extra cash that Hall could have asked for in season when he was the second best LW in the entire league.

I agree with all of this, and Eberle's shooting percentage fell to the 12% range which is where elite shooters percentages are,and he had his broken hand during that time. Eberle beats hall in points by about a ppg for each game more than Hall he has in the chart. I personally think locking up two potential superstars for longterm knowing they will be worth way more later was incredibly smart. Great contracts for both of them imo.

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#32 yawto
September 01 2013, 06:48PM
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No. Any other questions.

Hall, Eberle, Nuge and Yak at a 24 million cap hit (obviously making two assumptions) is better than any other deals quality wise for a top 4 offensively. There may be teams with a better 1-2 than the oilers, but if that cap hit gets done for all 4, best deal in the league.

Show me a team that deep on 4 forwards for that cheap in the league. Honestly, if Eberle is deemed worst of the bunch, is there a team in the league where you take the 4th highest paid forward on that roster and swap him for Ebs? I say no. Patrick sharp would be the closest but with age and injury history do you make that deal to save a 100 grand?

Most teams that are any good spend 22-29 million on their top 4 forwards. We are on the lower range of that and have the deepest 4 in my opinion. Correct me if I am wrong.

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#33 Quicksilver ballet
September 01 2013, 10:59AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I think people put way too much emphasis on 'we don't want to look cheap' and not enough on 'there's a salary cap.'

Amen brudder.

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#34 WhattaMike
September 01 2013, 11:57AM
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IMO, without involving skills, there are/were far worse deals out there...which hurt teams...such as those with Suter, Parise, Weber, Kovalchuk, etc.

Without overpaying the bottom six (which teams do a lot of)...Hall, Ebs, RNH, and Yak will all be affordable because of (a) Hemsky, Smyth, N. Schultz, etc, will be gone very soon...(b) the extra players who will be let go or traded (Potter, Larsen, Grebeshkov, etc) ...(C) the cap space always rises every year (and significantly I might add too).

This team is on the cusp on coming back to the elite side of the NHL and every one of these four kids is showing they deserve to be paid around the same mark average as like those seen above. They score, they try, they are each exciting to watch and that is the main reason fans pay the high ticket prices. I rather would pay these kids and watch the Oilers than that of Minnesota every night, or Dallas, or New Jersey, or Phoenix, etc.

A half million here or there at this time is not going to hurt the Oilers if they spend wisely on the bottom six and because of the rising salry cap.

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#35 michael
September 01 2013, 12:49PM
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Bushed wrote:

Yes, MacT has his work cut out for himself.

But nowhere did I say the Oilers were the Blackhawks, only that like the Hawks, MacT would have to re-shuffle his roster using value contracts "to build this team".

I do hope that in a few years the Oilers will compare favorably to the current Hawks lineup, but not there yet...

MacT is well on his way to reshaping and building this team in a manner that they will remain competitive for years to come. He ris himself this off season of 10 players? from last years squad. Lots of deadwood was chopped. How can you go wrong dumping Ryan Whitney,Bulin and Belanger. Talk about anchors.

We'll see more change this year as the season moves forward. By seasons end I bet we'll see at least 2-3 more changes. Especially if the Oilers are close or in the post season.

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#36 Rama Lama
September 01 2013, 02:54PM
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I think that there is an underlying assumption that since they are all either first rounders or high first rounders.........sign them now before they peak and command really high dollars like Sid.

There is some logic to this as the cap will significantly go higher in the next few years, salaries will rise, and we do not want these guys testing the free market any time soon.

I can see logic on both sides, but I'm glad that they will be signed to roughly the same dollars...........sure beats trading them for money, or watching our best talent leaving the city.

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#37 John Chambers
September 01 2013, 03:27PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I think people put way too much emphasis on 'we don't want to look cheap' and not enough on 'there's a salary cap.'

I think the flipside of your argument is that the potential consequence of a bridge contract is that you might pay in the $7M + range if either Hall or Eberle score at a ppg rate (which they very well might).

Hall's contract also has one more UFA year than Tavares', and that year is a bargain at $6M. I also don't think Landedkog or even Skinner for that matter are on the same level as #4.

The Oilers get cost-certainty - it's worth paying for. Also if Nuuuge struggles this year there's no reason he can't be signed to a bridge contract, and if he doesn't, I'd love to have him under contract for 7 more years at that price.

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#38 madjam
September 01 2013, 01:33PM
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My impression was Oilers could have had both Hall and Eberle for about 1/2 million less if it was a shorter term . MacT. was instrumental in getting them to a long term commitment for just a slight raise to $6.0 M . The rest will be added accordingly depending on how well they perform before next contract is due them . Do not see it being the same , or more as yet .

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#39 EHH Team
September 01 2013, 01:59PM
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madjam wrote:

My impression was Oilers could have had both Hall and Eberle for about 1/2 million less if it was a shorter term . MacT. was instrumental in getting them to a long term commitment for just a slight raise to $6.0 M . The rest will be added accordingly depending on how well they perform before next contract is due them . Do not see it being the same , or more as yet .

I think you have to credit Tambo, not MacT.

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#40 pkam
September 01 2013, 02:53PM
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madjam wrote:

My impression was Oilers could have had both Hall and Eberle for about 1/2 million less if it was a shorter term . MacT. was instrumental in getting them to a long term commitment for just a slight raise to $6.0 M . The rest will be added accordingly depending on how well they perform before next contract is due them . Do not see it being the same , or more as yet .

If I have to decide whether to sign them to a 3 year bridge contract for 5.5M, or 6-7 years for 6M, unless I don't believe 3 years down the road they will be better than now, it is a no brainer. That 1.5M saved in these 3 years will barely pay off the extra increase in one year of their next contract.

Just look at Gagner case, can you imagine the salary cap we save if Tambo had the gut to sign Gagner to 5-6 years at 4M per, instead of this 1 year bridge of 3.2M? Yes, we didn't overpay him for a year, but the saving barely cover the extra salary in one year and we have to pay 800K more for 2 more years. And after this 3 years contract, he will probably get even more.

I know 20/20 hindsight is easy now than prediction a year ago, but this is where the difference between a competent and incompetent management and hockey operation.

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#41 OilClog
September 01 2013, 03:11PM
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What I see is a chart, on that chart, are a bunch of stats and dollar signs.. Ranking both the Stats and Dollar signs strikingly in the same range.. both the contracts are more then acceptable.. Hall's even more so. Naysayers need to stop the negative Nancy talk and accept Eberle is worth is his contract, because he is. He's clutch, and as it stands now is being compared to a group of players pick in an entire different echelon of the draft.. so.. Well done, Eberle.

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#42 Pouzar99
September 01 2013, 03:44PM
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I would say the Hall and Eberle contracts created a ceiling more than a benchmark. By which I mean that if Yak has slightly better numbers than Hall and Eberle had when they signed and the cap has gone up he will still only get $6 million long term. As for Nuge, I have great confidence in him, but if he does not establish himself at the same level, how can be expect $6 million? Which is not to say I don't think he is at the same level, only that ultimately performance will tell the tale.

The only true outlier in the chart is the Taveres contract, which is a super bargain. If anything, I would be more nervous with the Skinner, Seguin and Kane deals as likely overpays. The key is revenue growth and the cap. If last season is any indicator it will be back to $70 million this year and higher after that. If so the Eberle and Hall deals will be better than good.

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#43 Serious Gord
September 01 2013, 10:34PM
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As Jonathon has ably demonstrated the two contracts are on the high end of average (or is it the mean? - or both?)

It is not these contracts oil fans should be concerned about - nor likely should we worry about RNH and Yak or Shultz - the anticipated growth in cap space should take care of that.

What needs to be understood however is that these contracts have set an end date on the oilers making a run for the cup at six years. For if all of these five stars live up even to modest expectations it will be the contracts after their first ones signed as veterans that will be very problematic indeed. Simply put there likely won't be near enough room for all of them when Hall negotiates his next one.

And as it's likely to be done prior to his RFA year we really only have five years.

As it looks like MacT is not going to make the changes this year to get into the playoffs we are down to four playoff years to hit the jackpot before the team atomizes.

From that perspective it would seem that a historically error-prone management group has very little room for error.

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#44 madjam
September 01 2013, 01:45PM
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Oilers prospect tourney starts this week . Does anyone know if the games are on radio or other media ?

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#45 fastoil
September 01 2013, 07:11PM
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Bushed wrote:

The Blackhawks managed to restock their roster after losing players to higher contract offers from other teams, and even won a second cup in a few years' time.

MacT will likewise have to make moves and decisions to build this team. If Hemsky is traded or resigns for less, there's a few extra dollars. Cap goes up, a few more. Trade Schultz, more room. The trick is to fill holes with value signings (like the Hawks did, and as madjam points out above). It's a moving target, but that's part of the GM's job.

If a skill contract has to be moved, Gagner might be the first to be considered, rather than Eberle, but we'll see who performs better moving forward.

Remember Gagner is a centre, a bit short on those at the moment. I don't prefer him to Eberle, but Gagner plays RW as well and Ebs doesn't play C.

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#46 toprightcorner
September 01 2013, 08:00PM
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Salaries for star players have even increased since Hall and Eberle signed their contracts. A bridge contract for 2 years likely would have ended up pushing the following contracts to 8+ million, look at Perry, Getzlaf, Giroux and Parise. Sure, it would have been great to have them at $5.75 or even $5.5 but they would have likely been at less term.

For the next 7 years, we probably are best off with the contract we have then a bridge and then a new contract.

5+5+5+8.5+8.5+8.5+8.5 = $49 mill 6 x 7 + $42 mill

$7 million potentially saved during the same term which ultimately can be used to make a stronger team for the last 4 years of the contract than the first 3 years, which is more likely the time when the Oilers could contend for a cup.

If Yak and Nuge meet expectations and cost $5.5 - $6 mill I think the Oilers will be in good shape, especially with cap space projected to increase by $10 mill in the next couple years.

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#47 Impartial Oilers Fan
September 02 2013, 12:17AM
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Can someone give me solid reasoning as to why Taylor Hall's point total and specifically this point/game pace is being used a baseline, rather than what it was, simply a very good season?

Taylor Halls had a 94.3% IPP last season. This is off the charts for any star player in the NHL. Crosby had a 80.9% last season, Ovechkin had a 73%. And furthermore, for reference sake, Hall had a 75.6% the year previously.

Hall obviously received more lucky assists than he can predictably project to get in future seasons. Yet everyone keeps talking about how his point per game was one of the best in the NHL last year, and because of that (SKEWED) fact, he should be a lock for the Olympic team?? Really?

That doesn't even bare in mind that there will be centre's playing on the wing for Team Canada.

I'm an Oilers fan and I don't understand how the Oil Country's consistent role in encouraging entitlement, ESPECIALLY of Hall and Yakupov.

What does it hurt to have Hall earn a spot on Team Canada, rather than bitch and complain that he wasn't a lock?! Especially, since its been constantly stated by Team Canada brass, that they want skills guys but not at the expense of good defensive play. If you believe Hall is always making good decisions with and without the puck, you obviously didn't see Hall's play at the World Championships without Oiler rose coloured glasses on.

Bottom line, let him earn a spot on Team Canada rather than some claim he's a lock after a short season, where he got more points while he was on the ice than will likely be sustainable.

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#48 Dangiltiis
September 02 2013, 01:50PM
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@ Jonathan Willis

"Hall’s performance is in that same Tavares/Skinner range"

Are you just looking at Skinner's best season only for comparison?

No way I would compare Tavares and Hall to Skinner, they are different beings. From what I recall about Skinner, he does much better against easier competition and may not drive his line nearly as well as the other 2. I would argue that Skinner and Eberle are much better comparisons, in terms of production, style of play, etc.

I think Hall's is a bargain, and that extra year of UFA that they bought for Hall is valuable even by comparison to Tavares.

Eberle's could have been down by 0.25-0.5 per year and it would have made me happy, as it would have outlined Hall is the best and set his alone as the upper limit.

Good agents won't care what either got, however, and will use the best comparables they can come contract negotiation. We'll see what MacT is made of in a year or 2 when it comes down to brass tax but his early negotiations have been encouraging (save for Ference).

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#49 Captain Obvious
September 01 2013, 10:14AM
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"Duh".

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#50 Jeff
September 01 2013, 11:50AM
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The last paragraph says it all. Hall and Eberle's contracts were signed by the old GM, under the old CBA. Things have changed, and that should be the basis of MacT's offer when negotiating these new contracts. Landeskog reset the new benchmark this summer. To date, neither RNH or Yak have outperformed him, and if they are signed for bigger contracts, they are automatically overpaid. I think MacT is smart enough to realize this; I'm looking forward to seeing what he does. If they have off the chart '13-'14 seasons though (and let's hope they do), all bets are off.

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