The Edmonton Oilers took care of their last bit of unfinished restricted free agent business on Friday, signing David Musil to a one-year contract extension.
David Musil 600k/75k/85k guarantee, has a chance to get some games at NHL level, will need to clear waivers to go to Bakersfield
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) July 29, 2016
In some ways this is as-expected. However, the contract details shared above also reveal a little bit about the Oilers and how they view this particular player.
First, the as-expected part: Musil will only make $600,000 if he plays in the NHL next season. As Stauffer notes in his tweet, Musil’s waiver exemption is burned up, so there’s a very real chance they keep him at the NHL level even if the only job available is a pressbox assignment. That’s how Brandon Davidson started out a year ago, and he managed to parlay it into a far more significant gig only after an early run as a healthy scratch.
Keeping the NHL money low (the $600,000 figure is lower than his qualifying offer would have been) makes Musil more attractive if he’s placed on waivers, but it also makes it easier for Edmonton to keep him in the majors because he won’t cost much.
The really interesting part about this deal, though, is the way it differs from the one-year deal given to Davidson last year or the contract Edmonton signed with Jordan Oesterle this past summer:
- Davidson (2015-16): $585,000 NHL / $85,000 AHL
- Oesterle (2016-17): $585,000 NHL / $85,000 AHL / $100,000 guaranteed
- Musil (2016-17): $600,000 NHL / $75,000 AHL / $85,000 guaranteed
If Musil plays all of next season in the majors he will make more money than Davidson did or Oesterle would. However, if he’s in the minors, his deal will be less favourable than those of either Oesterle or Davidson.
(At first glance his contract looks identical to Davidson’s, but unlike Davidson if Musil only gets spot duty in the NHL the first $10,000 of it confers no bonus above what he would have received in the AHL.)
The Oilers willingness to play hardball with regard to AHL money is a fairly recent development for the team, but a sign of a more professional approach to player contracts. The one kicker is that it probably also makes Musil more attractive to any budget teams out there in need of defencemen. Sometimes a lot of AHL money can function as a poison pill designed to get a player through waivers; in Edmonton’s case, it would seem that if Musil can’t crack the team out of camp the Oilers really won’t care much if he’s claimed by some other club.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) July 29, 2016
My read is that the team expects Musil to be on the opening night roster. His waiver status is a mark in his favour, and the way the waiver-exempt Oesterle’s contract was sweetened to a guaranteed $100,000 in the minors suggests that the Oilers expect him to spend at least some time in the AHL.
It’s a great opportunity for Musil. If it doesn’t go well, it’s also likely his last with Edmonton.