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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Draisaitl’s Next Contract

My friends, it’s mailbag time again and that means your ol’ pal Baggedmilk is here to give you a chance at some free learnin’ from your friendly writing panel. As always, I’ve taken your questions and sent them out to our geniuses writers to get the answers and insight that you’ve been yearning for. I’ve said it a million times by now, but this feature is entirely dependent on you guys and I need questions for next week. If you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.com

Feb 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates a first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Steveland Cleamer asks – Chiarelli has come out and said signing McDavid and Draisaitl to contracts are his top priorities this summer. I keep hearing the mainstream media talking that Draisaitl’s contract will come in the 6.5-7.5 mil range, while they are also talking about the issue of having RNH and Eberle each with $6 Mil contracts. My concern or question is: why is everyone is so hot to jump on giving Draisaitl a huge long term contract after really only one solid year in the league? I love the guy, but is no one concerned these Oilers may be falling into the same trap as the previous in giving large long-term contracts to players who stop performing to that same level? Why no talk of a bridge deal?

Jason Gregor:

Draisaitl is bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled than Eberle or RNH. He also, in my opinion, is more driven. We’ve seen big improvements in the areas of his games that needed work. He needed to get stronger to carry his big frame and he did. He’s also more versatile, he can play wing or centre. I really don’t see any similarity between the two. And for the record Eberle scored fairly consistently over the first three years of his contract with 28, 24 and 25 goals (in only 69 games). It’s not like he didn’t produce, and I expect Draisailt will produce more points so paying him a $6 mill plus contract isn’t an issue.

It also is how the league works and his agent will use comparables like MacKinnon, Gaudreau, Monahan, Barkov etc.

Jonathan Willis:

Yes, there’s that concern. There’s also the concern that if he keep developing, he’ll get more expensive the next time around. I do think the headlong rush to anoint Leon Draisaitl as the NHL’s next great player is a little premature and that there’s some risk that when he finds his level it’s not as a point-per-game player.

Lowetide:

There is a concern, of course, but the Oilers have to make a decision based on buying RFA seasons only or RFA seasons with a couple of UFA seasons tacked on. It’s a bet, and a good one, but for sure it could hurt down the line. I’d go $7 times eight, so call me crazy!

Matt Henderson:

I think the Oilers put themselves in a bad position with Draisaitl right out of the gate when they burned his first year because they cleared a spot for him. That started the clock on his ELC. Now he’s put up a top 10 scoring season as it comes to an end. I don’t know if Draisaitl will get cheaper. Maybe it’s a Subban situation and the bridge takes you to a 9M deal. Maybe he struggles and he’s a bit cheaper. I lean towards locking him and McDavid up for as long as possible.

Robin Brownlee:

No concerns at all. I didn’t see the need to sign Hall, RNH and Eberle to their contracts when it was done — almost like a package deal — because that team was a long way from contending when they were signed. McDavid and Draisaitl are the key cogs on a team that is ready to contend for the Stanley Cup. They get paid.

Chris the Intern:

You make a good point, but if I’m Draisaitl there’s no way I’m taking a bridge deal. I think the Oilers need to focus on term rather than price for Draisaitl as locking him up long-term is key. Hopefully Draisaitl and McDavid understand that if they want to win a ton of Stanley Cups with the Oilers, then they might have to take a little pay cut on their extension.

Baggedmilk:

I think it’s comparing apples to oranges. Draisaitl will get paid, and he’s earned it, but the situation is completely different from the other young guys that got the $6 million deals. They were expected to carry the team whereas Leon is expected to be a major cog. Another difference is that the team in general is much better and that puts him in a better spot to succeed. My guess on the contract is that he’ll land somewhere in the Tarasenko ballpark ($7.5 million/per).

Oct 12, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) celebrates his third period goal against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Francis asks – Do you have any concern about Puljujarvi being scratched at times for Finland at the World Championships?

Jason Gregor:

Not really. He just turned 19. Players develop at different paces. He has a massive frame at 220 pounds at it will take time to add the strength necessary to move his body. He doesn’t have to develop right away, even though he is a #4 overall pick. As long as he keeps improving is what matters, not that he reaches a high level right away.

Jonathan Willis:

No, not really. What’s happening at the world championships is a continuation of what overall was a disappointing season, one in which Oilers coach Todd McLellan clearly lacked confidence in the player, and in which Puljujarvi posted unspectacular totals in the AHL. It is the season as a whole that is somewhat concerning, not this coda.

Lowetide:

Not really, because he has been good when he plays. Little doubt this has been a tough season for Puljujarvi and a fresh start next season is probably the best solution. The only concern I have with JP  is how much he will score.

Matt Henderson:

I’m only concerned that it’s a waste of his time. The Europeans seem to hate playing youth and they’ll keep kids on the bench to get veterans ice time even when it obviously hurts them. Not saying Finland was hurt by sitting Puljujarvi, just that they won’t think twice about doing it. JP will be just fine.

Robin Brownlee:

No. One World Championship is a snapshot, not an indication of what’s to come over the long term. One tournament should not define a player for better or worse. He’s a kid.

Chris the Intern:

The fact that I don’t know the full story draws me to not really care too much. He could be injured, he could just want a break. It’s hard to believe PoolParty would straight up get benched. Hopefully we find out more after the tournament.

Baggedmilk:

I think he’s a 19-year old kid that still has a long ways to go in his development, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Poolparty is going to be a beauty, but the Oilers need to give him some time to marinate before expecting him to be a major contributor.

3) Grant asks – Seriously, why have the Oilers sucked on the dot so badly, for so long, and how do they fix it?  Do they just need to get older/more experienced?  Just imagine how this year would have gone if we had won 50% of faceoffs in the regular season and playoffs…..

Jason Gregor:

Experience is part of it, but as Mark Letestu said so eloquently this season, “Once those guys decide it is an area of their game they need to improve, then it will improve.” McDavid and Draisaitl are young and they just need more experience. The fact RNH has not been able to improve (his career FO% is 43.2 and he was 43.8 this season), illustrates he has not put in the work necessary to improve that facet of his game. He has worked very hard to get stronger and faster, and maybe now that he has filled out he will spend more time honing his faceoff skills. He needs to practice them more.

Jonathan Willis:

It isn’t a size thing, something the data and Adam Oates both agree on. Experience definitely matters, and Edmonton has a lot of youth down the middle. Time will help.

Lowetide:

Young centres. They don’t have man strength. Even Nuge, who is 24, doesn’t have the man strength of someone like Ryan Kesler. He’ll get there and he needs to work on it, but will get better.

Matt Henderson:

Shocking absolutely nobody, I think faceoffs are largely overrated. The problem with the Oilers was that they weren’t even close against the Ducks some nights and that allowed them to do some really cool tactical things that were very unconventional. You’ll be hard pressed to find a connection between winning and faceoffs on the whole, though. The Oilers could stand to get better for sure, but I’d be more worried about other things.

Robin Brownlee:

Not sure you can be certain the season would have unfolded a lot differently had the Oilers been 50 per cent in the circles. When and where plays into it. That said, there are no negatives to winning more face-offs. Experience matters, as does having a knack to cheat effectively and find every edge there is.

Chris the Intern:

McDavid is 20 years old and is not expected to be a good face off guy yet. Draisaitl is ALSO only 21 and finished with a 49% F/O percentage. And Nuge’s faceoff skills are his biggest downfall. We just have a young, inexperienced core to blame for our faceoff woes and time will fix that for sure. Our bottom six centres (Letestu, Hendricks, Desharnais, even Lander) all finished with >50%, so I’m not too concerned there.

Baggedmilk:

They really do suck, huh? It’s actually kind of amazing that they don’t win more faceoffs by accident. That said, I think it’s because they don’t practice enough. The Oilers have spent two years drilling systems into these guys and now it’s time to work on the individual skills. Bring in a skills coach. Hire a witch doctor. Do whatever it takes.

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli makes the Oilers pick of Connor McDavid (not pictured) in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

4) Jake asks – Did anything about Peter Chiarelli’s year end press conference surprise you? If so, what? What was the most important takeaway from it?

Jason Gregor:

Nothing really surprised me. He was positive but reserved. I think the most important aspect is Chiarelli believes there is still a lot of improvement needed from his team. He was cautious about their success, because much of it came on the backs of very young players, and some veterans who had career years. The Oilers are good and will be a playoff team for quite a while, however, he knows there are still big steps to take. They won one playoff round, and to win two or three is a much harder step to take than the one they took this year. It is easier to improve from being a bad team to a good team, than it is to going from a good team to a great team.

Jonathan Willis:

On the big picture stuff, not really. To the degree that anything surprised me, it was Chiarelli talking about incremental growth and shrugging off the need to make a big push in the last year of Connor McDavid’s entry-level deal. But even that didn’t shock me, because I have no idea whether it’s something Chiarelli really believes and will act on or if he’s just playing his cards close to the vest. The news item that Andrej Sekera will be gone 6-9 months caught me by surprise, though, and as concrete news is probably the biggest takeaway.

Lowetide:

I thought he slow played the idea of trading a $6M forward, something I think he will do. Other than that, nothing terribly surprising. It’s also worth mentioning that the general manager should not give away his plans for the summer during the exit interview.

Matt Henderson:

Biggest Surprise: Sekera’s leg almost fell off.
Take Away: Oh god, Sekera’s leg almost fell off.
Robin Brownlee:
 No surprises for me because no GM, Chiarelli included, is going to tell you what they really intend on doing anyway.

Chris the Intern:

I was surprised he didn’t announce any injuries that the players suffered throughout the playoffs. Not sure if I was hoping there would be a couple so I would feel better about losing, or if I was relieved to hear none. Still surprised there was no chat at all about it (besides Sekera).

Baggedmilk:

Peter Chiarelli doesn’t tell you much of anything and that’s a huge difference compared to his predecessor. MacT would basically lay his cards on the table for you whereas Sneaky Pete keeps things much closer to the vest. Case and point: Who saw that Taylor Hall trade coming? Chia is like a magician that has you thinking one thing while something completely different is happening behind the scenes.

5) Armeyas asks – Which NHL star is the least likeable and why?

Jason Gregor:

If you are asking who I think fans like the least, that is difficult since everyone views players differently, but Brad Marchand is likely near the top. If you are asking who I like the least…I love offence, so even if a star is cheap and they score consistently it is hard for me to dislike them. If I had to pick one then I’ll pick Lundqvist. Big goalie with an oversized chest protector. He’s always had oversized gear in my eyes.

Jonathan Willis:

No comment.

Lowetide:

I don’t really have a least likeable player, but Jack Eichel’s comments after the season really struck me the wrong way. A lot of finger pointing, hard to call that behaviour leadership imo.

Matt Henderson:

Ryan Kesler. On the list of likability it goes like:
1. Puppies running in slow motion
2. Cookies still warm from the oven
759. Stubbing your toe and bending a nail back a little.
760. Needing a towel and not finding one.
10481. An unexpected bowel movement.
10482. Ryan Kesler

Why? Probably something to do with the way he was raised but that’s just a guess. I don’t know him that well.

Robin Brownlee:
While he’s slipped from “star” status the last few seasons, Corey Perry is a cheap player because he crosses the line way too often for my liking. I don’t respect how he plays.

Chris the Intern:

I would always say Brad Marchand, cause he’s a prick and I hate the Bruins. But NOW, after we’ve got some playoff hate going, I would happily agree that it’s Ryan Kesler. He’s probably a guy that  you’d love to have on your team but hate to play against. So until he plays for the Oilers, I will hate him forever.

Baggedmilk:

He’s not a star but Ryan Kesler always deserves a slap in the mouth. Just take another look at that horrible Super-K tattoo in the picture above. What else do you need to know?

If we’re going ACTUAL star player than I’ll go with Connor McDavid. Not because I think the players hate him perse, but they do hate playing against him.

  • Timmah007

    1- Huge concern. I love watching Leon huge fan of his game but he hasn’t proven to be a top 6 centre he’s proven to be a top 6 winger. Huge difference in the long term outlook of the team. What if he’s given the second line centre job next year and only produces 55-60 points? Long term big money to me means inking him in as a winger moving forward if expect him to play centre I’d rather risk a bridge deal.. Until that is determined must hold onto nuge and ebs.
    2- Not concerned about worlds. His stat sheet from ahl season doesn’t jump out as a guy who is without question ready for the jump next year. Wouldn’t say find concerning just a bit dissapointing.
    3- See if can pry vermette from ducks at reasonable cost. Has always been excellent on the dot. Offer horcoff a case of beer to teach kids a few tricks. But seriously a real skills coach is a must can’t get beat consistently in one area of the game and expect long term success has to be a focal point to some degree.
    4- Charelli said everything would expect him to say only shocking news was sekera.
    5- Not just bitterness but the ducks play a very dirty game don’t like to see.

    • JimmyV1965

      I’m not sure what you’re thinking is good when it comes to offence. I would be thrilled if Drai got 60 pts heading up the second line. Would put him very close to the top 20 scorers. McDavid is one of a very select few players in this league who can average 1 PPG. You simply can’t expect Drai to get 75 pts every year.

  • Explicit

    Good questions. I’m also a little worried about the cost of draisaitl and even what McDavid might get after 1 good season but what can you do.

    I’m not concerned about puljujarvi, but my expectations are certainly lower.

    I agree with lowetide, my least likeable player is easily Eichel. Seems like a self entitled brat to me.

    And thus concludeds my opinions no one asked for

  • STIXLER

    While it would be nice if the Oilers got better at face offs and obviously it doesn’t hurt you to win more face offs are over rated. 5/10 and 6/11 of the top teams didn’t even make the playoffs.

    • crabman

      Faceoffs don’t matter too much until you are up 3 goals with 3 minutes to go. That’s when it would be nice to know you can win the key faceoffs,gain possession and get the puck out.

  • toprightcorner

    Henderson, you have it completely backwards regarding burning a year off of Draisaitl’s contract. If they didn’t and he scored 80 pts next season, he would have had 51pt, 77 pt, 80 pt ELC seasons and be looking at $8+ mill a year based on his 3 seasons. Having a 9 pt, 51 pt and a 77 pt season likely saved the Oilers $1-$1.5 mill a year, or up to $10 mill over a long term contract. To me, thats the only positive thing from the MacT era.

  • toprightcorner

    Oilers need to hire Adam Oates and have all their centers spend a lot of time with him this summer. Nuge and Eberle can also use him to improve their skill.

    I would love for the Oilers just to pay Oates $500k a year to work with the team year round. That would be the best money they ever spent.

  • RJ

    Re: Q2: 51 points and 0.70 PPG last season. 77 points and 0.939 PPG this season. 16 points and 1.23 PPG this playoff.

    He bested Nuge’s regular season best in PPG by more than 20, and outscored Nuge in the playoffs 16-4.

    In a non-cap world, its simple. You keep them both. In a cap world, you have to consider trading Nuge, though I did like how he played in the playoffs regardless of the fact he couldn’t score when the team really needed his line to get going.

  • bazmagoo

    1) Give Dr Drai whatever it takes to get him signed for 8 years
    2) No. He’s 19
    3) This is why Nuge could get traded
    4) I was surprised he said sign McDavid first, then Draisaitl. Might have misspoken though. We shouldn’t let Drai go to RFA status in my opinion. Really liked it when he said “what window? we won one series” – that’s a sign of the competitive edge of a legitimate GM
    5) Perry and Kesler are two of the cheapest players in the league, always have been

  • madjam

    Jesse had a trying first season adjusting to North American hockey and language , etc. , and it effected his play. Confidence shaken and seemed confused and lost out there a good portion of time . Have to question his hockey I.Q. for transitioning to the Canadian game . Next year , here is hoping he puts everything together better than this year and makes big strides like Leon did . He certainly did not play well without the puck , similar unfortunately to Yakupov .

  • Derian Hatcher

    Dear Ryan Kesler

    You sucked in the conference final. You were -4 in game 6. You can’t play like a punk and thug and not expect me to show up. Have a nice summer.

    Sincerely,
    Karma
    P.S. Thanks for getting a tatoo of my initial. You’ll have a constant reminder that I’m around.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    We need a TRADE PETE. The Oil should be in the finals not SMASHVILLE. This one is on BIG GAME EBS…. if he scored 1 measly goal, the Oil are likely back in the cup finals

  • Ryan68

    Draisaitl is going to get paid this year. 7-7.5 for as long as the Oilers can get him. The playoffs showed he can drive his own line. He’s THE perfect complement for McDavid. We have an underrated and inexpensive defense and goaltending tandem. $48M/season is a lot to be able to spend on forwards.