Monday Mailbag – Draisaitl’s Next Contract

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Mailbag

It’s Monday and that means we’re back with another edition of the Mailbag. This week, we talk about Draisaitl’s next contract, when the Oilers turned the corner, and why the Oilers can’t close out games against weaker opponents. As always, this feature depends on you guys so I need your questions for next week. If you have a question for the mailbag you can always fire off an email to baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now let’s all gather around to kill some company time and learn something. 

1) Clarison asks – Playoff talk in January is wonderful! At which point in the season or specific game did you guys feel or see that this team was different from years past and could make a run for the playoffs

Jonathan Willis:

It was early on. When they went 7-1 to start the season it was hard to get away from the idea that they were going to challenge for a playoff spot just because of all the points in the bank. Let me demonstrate. If we take this year’s team and replace their record from Game 9 to Game 47 with the work of last year’s team over the same span, the Oilers would currently have 51 points – six less than they have as I write this on Thursday but still good enough for a playoff spot. More than half of the gap in the standings between this year’s team and last year’s team is attributable to those first eight games. I’ve been talking about them as a playoff team since game eight and haven’t seen anything to convince me otherwise.

Lowetide:

Opening night. They beat Calgary. It felt different from opening nights of the past. I did not pick the Oilers to make the playoffs, but I felt this team was different from opening night. The specific play came after Calgary tied it up. The camera panned to Connor McDavid and he looked upset. Good, I said, I am tired of losing too, Connor McDavid.

Matt Henderson:

I guess I started to believe that the playoffs were a strong possibility when the Oilers were still there in December. Now, at this point, it seems like it would take a disaster to miss. I could see a difference in the team as early as October but I didn’t let myself believe it fully until after American Thanksgiving. 

Robin Brownlee:

I really started thinking and writing about it in December. It didn’t come down to one or two games but as a result of the team checking off different boxes that, to me, indicate a team with a chance — bouncing back from bad games, beating teams they’d had trouble with in the past, the ability to win on the road etc.

Jason Gregor:

I picked them as a playoff team at the start. Much of that was due to McDavid, but also having essentially three new top-four D-men in Russell, Larsson and a healthy Klefbom. But I didn’t expect them to be top-ten in the NHL. I thought they’d be a wildcard team. They have played even better than I thought. They have been much more consistent than I expected and moving forward I think their focus is now trying to finish first or second in the division and get home ice advantage in the first round.

Chris the Intern:

Well, I felt the special feeling in the offseason right before training camp. When we won our first BOA It pretty much confirmed it for me. You just get that feeling ya know? (Even though we played under .500 for a while before Christmas). 

Baggedmilk:

I think it was when we got into December and the Oilers were still in the mix. Two years ago they were out by Halloween and the fact that they were playing meaningful games in December was huge. Now that we’re in January my Oilers feels are completely rattled by this new world of competitiveness.

2) @LateFiennes asks – Who’s an Oiler that, looking back, you realized you were completely wrong about all along?

Jonathan Willis:

There have certainly been surprises, for both good and bad – Matt Benning and Patrick Maroon on one side, Benoit Pouliot and Milan Lucic on the other – but nobody I can point to and say ‘Wow, this guy is not remotely the player I was expecting to see!’

Lowetide:

How long do you have? Matt Hendricks, so far Milan Lucic, and if you go back in history it must number in the thousands. I famously defended Marc Pouliot through 2036, and he never turned out.

Matt Henderson:

Looking back I was pretty wrong about Tom Poti, who I thought was a useless slug. I wanted him to be an offensive defender who could play in his own end but the points weren’t coming for him. Looking back I think he was just too inexperienced and we didn’t know yet how to quantify his contributions. He became known for his quality defense as a Capital which always makes me chuckle.

Robin Brownlee:

Jeff Deslauriers. I thought his competitiveness, which was immense, would be enough to overcome the weaknesses in his fundamentals. He battled on and off the ice — he and others got buried when the Oilers dimly decided to drop their own AHL affiliate (Jeff played for six different teams in the minors in seven seasons as an Oiler) — and I liked and admired that, but it wasn’t enough to get him through.

Jason Gregor:

Gilbert Brule. I thought he would be a solid player. Had a lot of ability.

Chris the Intern:

NOT Devan Dubnyk because I ALWAYS believed in him. But sticking on the goalie topic I’d say Ben Scrivens. I too believed in him for the longest time but he’s had a rough few YEARS and doesn’t look like he’s bouncing back from this one.

Baggedmilk:

I thought Rob Schremp was going to be better than he was. I was convinced that those inflated junior numbers meant that he was going to be a star but it just never happened. The guy had a cup of coffee with a few different teams before eventually ending up in Europe, but I was sure that the Oilers had found money in him. Whoops.

3) Micheal asks – Why do the Oilers still seem to have trouble with teams that are below them in the standings like the Panthers? It seems like they’re still playing down to their competition rather than taking advantage of weaker teams. Is this a learned skill?

Jonathan Willis:

Your question piqued my interest, so I put together a quick spreadsheet of the Oilers’ results, splitting them into playoff and non-playoff teams (as of Jan. 19). Here are the results:

  • vs. playoff teams: 10-11-4 (79-point pace), -5 goal differential
  • vs. non-playoff teams: 15-4-3 (123-point pace), +15 goal differential

If anything, this is a good reminder of the value of objective stats over subjective impressions. It might seem like the Oilers do worse than they should against poor clubs, but that may just be because we remember losses to poorer teams more clearly because those losses defy our expectations of a win. Certainly, the numbers show that Edmonton has done a fine job of taking advantage of bad teams, and reinforce the importance of schedule effects when considering team performance.

Lowetide:

I think that is a maturity issue. Most of these kids—still—lack experience. Also, the league is so damned even, I think we as fans think there are easy games. There are no easy games.

Matt Henderson:

Your guess is as good as mine. I would wager that it’s because this is a young team that is learning how to win. Most of the players grew up on junk Oiler teams or other loser clubs. Winning on a regular basis is obviously hard to do. They’ll get it because now they know what standard they need. McLellan is criticizing wins just as much as losses now. Big step.

Robin Brownlee:

The best teams play their own game and set the agenda no matter what the opposition. That’s a consistency that takes time, especially for a team that is on the rise as opposed to a team that has made it to the top and learned how to stay there. The Oilers aren’t there yet.

Jason Gregor:

There are no easy games in the NHL. The Oilers have dominated some teams below them in the standings and struggled some other times. I believe finding consistency is a learned skill and this group’s best players are still very young so there will be nights they don’t play their best, however, I think the Oilers have become much better in the past few months of not over looking teams.

Chris the Intern:

Yeah probably learned skill along with a ton of confidence. Even though we’re winning now I feel like the boys don’t have as much confidence as they could. I think it’s just human nature to play down to your competition.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t know if it’s that or just that they’re still not ready to play far more often than we’d like. There are games when the Oilers have awful starts/bad starts/bad luck/bear attacks to deal with/whatever and they look sloppy. I think that’s an experience thing that they need to sort out, and I think it will come. 

4) Randall asks – Leon Draisaitl is having an amazing season and I’m wondering what the panel thinks his next contract might look like. Who would you consider his comparables? Thanks in advance.

Jonathan Willis:

There isn’t enough room to answer this in a mailbag segment – we’re talking about a full column here. What I would point out is that when his contract expires Draisaitl will be a full five years away from unrestricted free agency, so any look at contract comparables will have to take in player in the same relative bargaining position. This makes him a different kettle of fish than someone like Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Lowetide:

Really depends if they go bridge or long term. I think Barkov might be a comparable but there are too many variables to give you a good answer.

Matt Henderson:

Next contract should be in the 5-6 million dollar range for long term or 4-5 on a “bridge”. He’s earned his money. It’s up to Chia and company to make everyone, Drai and McDavid included, understand how the pieces will fit. If everyone wants what they’re worth on the open market then the Oilers won’t be able to keep everyone. Plain and simple. It used to be $6M was the max. Now with Lucic, RNH, and Eberle all making that it’s tough to squeeze in more.

Robin Brownlee:

If Leon finishes this season playing the way he has so far I’d be looking at a max-term deal. As for the numbers, I’d think they’d begin in the mid to high fives in a deal with an AAV of $6-6.5 million.

Jason Gregor:

I see him signing a six-eight year deal. He’ll get at least $6 mill and could command the same $6.3 as Nathan MacKinnon. I see him in the same boat as MacKinnon and Sean Monahan.

Chris the Intern:

I feel like another 6-year, $36 million isn’t out of the question. We’re giving them to everyone else so might as well do Draisaitl too.

Baggedmilk:

He’s going to get at least the Lucic deal of seven years 42$ million. I’d book it right now. The problem, then, will be that Chiarelli is going to have to clear out some space. I’m thinking guys like Eberle and Pouliot will be making their way out of town before any of the other big ticket players. I think McLellan/Chiarelli will value Nuge’s versatility more than what those other two guys provide and that will make them the odd men out. At the end of the day, what the hell do I know? 

5) Danny asks – As I write this McDavid has 54 points (15 goals, 39 assists) and the team has 57 points (25-15-7). Who will have more points at the end of the season – McDavid personally or the team in the standings?

Jonathan Willis:

I hate to sit on the fence, but that one’s too close to call. Right now I think something in the 95-point range is a good bet for team and player alike.

Lowetide:

I will guess McDavid, because March is going to be madness for this young man.

Matt Henderson:

Oooh. Fun question. I’m going to go with McDavid. I think he finishes with more than 100 points and Edmonton will be within three of that. Quite the race going on there. McDavid had his little funk but he looks like a superstar again. I see big things for the second half. 

Robin Brownlee:

Good question. I’ll go with McDavid. assuming he doesn’t miss significant time with an injury.

Jason Gregor:

Good question. I will go with McDavid, ending up with two or three more points than the Oilers, with both of them being above 94 points.

Chris the Intern:

Haha I like this question. I’m going to say the Oilers will finish with more. They’re going to break 100 points this season, and McDavid will hover in the high 90’s. 

Baggedmilk:

Oooh fun! I’m going to go with McDavid gets more points than the Oilers because I think he’s going to get close to 100. I think the Oilers will be in the 90s but I think McDavid will edge them out. 

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  • 24% body fat

    Danny wins the internet.

    Great question! Fun, light, original, and somewhat pertains to the overall performance of the leagues best player and the team

  • Looch#27

    All this happiness and positive vibes in late January have me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside!!! Most recent oiler most of us had wrong is gotta be Justin Shultz right? I mean MacT sold us all a bs storey but if we slow play JS on third pairing minutes instead of first pair (Norris candidate) does he still turn out for us? He’s the right shot pp qb we’re missing correct? God I love PC and miss our old management group like a I miss a bad toothache. Bring on the playoffs!!!!

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Would it be wise to sign Drai to a bridge deal for 2 years @ 4mil or so while guys like Pouliot and Ebs are still here,then sin him to a max contract of 7mil x 8yrs?

    I’m just thinking it might be hard to shed salary for guys like Pou, who have zero value, and rather than buy him out sit on his contract and wait for it to expire.

  • XBinX

    Robbie Schremp definitely didn’t live up to his hype I was so convinced he was gonna be a star… Disappointment..

    McDavid will have more points then the Oilers he should break 100.. big second half needed

  • freelancer

    My off the board pick for player I thought was going to be better is Teemu Hartikainen. I thought he was going to be our big skilled man in the top 6.

  • camdog

    My first internet squabble was about Deslauriers and Dubnyk. A couple bloggers watched Deslauriers at a preseason practice and were convinced he was going to be a star and Dubnyk was going to be a dud. His saves all looked fantastic, but that was because he was always out of position.

    I stuck with Dubnyk that day and have stuck with him throughout his career, more out of stubbornness than anything.

    Player I have been most wrong about so far is Nail. I thought and still hold onto the thought that he can make it in the NHL as a depth winger. Not looking promising right now.

    • RJ

      I went to a St. Louis blog to see how things were going.

      It was Groundhog Day.

      There were some questioning his handling and that he needed more TOI with quality linemates to see what they really have.

  • @Hallsy4

    I’d give Drai his deserved piece of pie for 8 years. Crazy stuff but I think I’d do 6 million (or 6.3) times 8. With the cap, teams can afford big contracts as long as they avoid players getting big money that don’t accomplish much. This team will be pretty Scary with Drai and McDavid for the next 10 years. Core looks good, might lose EBS and Pouliot down the road but it should all work out.

  • Natejax97

    The Oilers need 16 wins in their final 33 games to reach 92 points and that should be enough for a post season birth.

    McDavid is on pace for a glorious season. Add in a streak and a slump, and he should finish in the 92 point range.

    I am holding up a potato fries fist bump to hoping I am wrong and on both accounts expectations are exceeded.

    Go Oilers…feels so darn good right now!!!!

  • Bills Bills

    I am bridging Leon. 2-3 years at about 5 per and ensure he keeps the hunger. He’s young and if he wants to stay playing behind the best player in the planet at the end of that contract, they will lock him up for 8 years at a decent value. That gives them 10 or 11 years of a fantastic hockey player vs. 6. Will they pay more over the next 6 years? Yes maybe a bit but they are buying for the future and smart asset management is what will make this team a long range contender like Chicago vs a flash in the pan with a very small window like Vancouver or TB.

  • OriginalPouzar

    If it will costs apx $5M/year to bridge Leon for 2 years (and it likely would), I would rather just go long term for the extra $1M-$1.5M/year.

    Sure, longer term is a risk given he’s really only had one season of exceptional play, however, I think its a calculated risk as I simply don’t see this player not living up to a $6M long term contract.

  • Oilers/McDavid points ratio. This should be a new stat.

    I have always maintained that the Oilers will end up with the same number of points as McDavid.

    McDavid has 56 points after 49 games and is on track for ~94 points.
    Oilers have 60 points after 49 games and is on track for ~100 points.

    O/M% = .933

    For a while, McDavid had more points than the Oilers, but lately, the Oilers have more. I would say it’s a good thing the Oilers have more points and thus aren’t as dependent upon him for scoring.

    But, I think McDavid will turn it up a bit more and get to even with the team so the O/M% = 1.00.

    With that surge, the Oilers will end up with 104 points and 1st in the Pacific.

  • dsanchez1973

    The Leon question is far and away the most pressing for this organization. We have this year and next before reality sets in.

    In 2018-2019, we currently have these contracts committed:

    Eberle 6.0
    Lucic 6.0 (no move)
    Nuge 6.0
    Pouliot 4.0
    Sekera 5.5 (no move)
    Klefbom 4.17
    Larsson 4.17
    Talbot 4.17

    Thats 40M tied up in eight players. Add Leon at 5 and Connor at 10, and suddenly we have 55M tied up in 10 players, leaving us 18M (at current cap) to sign 40 more players, an average salary of 450K which is below the league minimum.

    Enjoy this year and next. Two years from now (if not sooner), Pouliot is 100% gone, and will be hard to find a way to keep either of Eberle or Nuge as well.

    • Oilersrule99

      The oilers have ference,Gryba and Russell if not signed coming off the books next year,that’s 8 more plus according to cap friendly have another 4 of cap space which gives them 12 .Eberle has 1 year remaining at 6 which may be attractive trade bait depending how his season goes so the oilers should be able to generally keep this team together as I believe the salary cap is based on your 23 man roster,at least that’s the way it appears on cap friendly web site

    • The Whispererer

      To put your concern in perspective, the Blackhawks in 2017-18 have CAP of $62,421,000 committed to 10 players. Somehow, they always find a way to manage.

      My question is this: if Draisaitl is not signed by July 1st he becomes an RFA. Is he then eligible for an offer sheet ? I could see a team with lots of CAP space and a need at centre ( Carolina, Arizona, Buffalo, etc. ) take a run at him on a 7 x $7.5 deal; matching that will put the Oilers in a world of hurt and possibly force a firesale on 1 of Eberle/Nuge.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Ya. One player will be gone in the expansion draft, so there’s that.

      Only the 23 man roster makes up the cap hits.

      And even if the Oilers find themselves in a pinch, I believe the word you are looking for is “trade”.

    • The Whispererer

      If we take away the distortion of Draisaitl’s rookie season from his career stats, he has 36G and 57A for 93 points in the past 121 games for an average of .77 pts/game. I wonder where that puts him on the salary grid.
      For comparison, Monahan has 95G and 94A in 289 games for an average of .66pts/game. He is getting $6.375/year. Vlad Tarasenko has 126G and 129A for 255 points in 306 games or .83pts/game and makes $7.5. Gaudreau has 65g and 107A in 199 games for .86pts/game and makes $6.75.

      • RJ

        Monahan is an interesting comparable.

        He’s not an elite scorer, but he is a major building block for the Flames. Probably close to what Drai is going to get.

  • @Hallsy4

    @Bagged Milk, when can we expect a trade Milkman? Shoot it to me straight brother, I think a backup is coming soon even though LB played well and a few more significant moves will come on the deadline…. I’m guessing moves that none of us expect… but what say you?

  • JBear

    Draisaitl $6Mx8 years. That’ll be a steal of a deal long term. I think you can have that and McDavid at $9M while Pouliot’s contract expires. This assuming the cap goes up minimum $2M each year. They’ll have to bridge PoolParty $2.5Mx2 years and sign him to a $5M contract. Same with Maroon at $5M. That being said you’ll be paying 5 forwards peanuts.