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Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

At Random: How Much?

Edmonton Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli was stating the obvious during his season-end availability with the media when he said signing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to new contracts are his top two priorities. There’s not a lot of stop-the-presses stuff with that revelation.

“Again, order of events is, and we can’t officially sign Connor till July 1st, but it’s going to be Connor then Leon and then we’ve got a cluster of other guys I’d like to have back but I’ve got to get through those,” Chiarelli said, responding to a question by Terry Jones. “Cap wise we’re OK next year.

“We could basically stay the same and it’s the following year when Mr. McDavid’s contract will kick in, so I have to be cognizant of that. But we’ve got a lot of different rosters we’ve looked at in the sense that at numbers for specific guys terms but cap’s expected to stay flat or raise a little bit, so we’re working off a $73-$75 million cap to see where it’s at. We certainly will have the resources to put another contending team in place.”

The only questions that matter, of course, are how much money and term McDavid and Draisaitl get – keeping in mind how what will undoubtedly be the two biggest contracts in the history of the franchise will impact keeping a contending team together over the next five to eight years. How might these deals look?

MCDAVID’S MILLIONS

Mar 10, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates a third period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

If McDavid, 20, isn’t the best player in the game right now, he’s close. He’s going to be paid like it with his next contract, which his agent and the Oilers can begin negotiating after July 1. While McDavid could get as much as $14 million a season in a max deal (20 per cent of the salary cap over eight years), I don’t see it. What I do see is a new contract that bumps him ahead of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ($10.5 million), Anze Kopitar ($10 million), Alex Ovechkin ($9.538 million) and Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million).

Statistics aside, McDavid is the linch-pin on which this franchise has turned after a decade of failure and ineptitude. McDavid energized this city on the way to claiming the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion (he should win the Hart Trophy) as the Oilers reached Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs, and he is fast becoming the face of the entire league. He gets paid. I think the AAV on his new deal will be right around $11.5 million.

What’s making the rounds on media row now is the possibility that McDavid could take a bridge contract of, say, five years, which would still leave him in the heart of his prime when it came time to negotiate another mega-deal. Crosby and Malkin did it. So did Kane and Toews, as well as Steven Stamkos.

“One of the theories is that what McDavid might do is copy some other star players who went for five-year deals, which gives the opportunity to have another big deal when he’s 25 years old,” said insider Elliotte Friedman recently during Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada. Hmm.

An eight-year deal would provide the Oilers cost certainty on McDavid. It would provide McDavid security that more than sets him up for life regardless of any other contract he might sign down the road. A five-year deal still provides the Oilers an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup or two during that time frame. Of course, it also provides McDavid an out — with a line-up of teams waiting to pay him — if he chooses to move along.

If I’m Chiarelli, I’m selling that eight-year deal all day long. If I’m McDavid, I see no downside to signing for five years and then re-assessing because the money is somewhat secondary when that five-year term is up. The chance to win trumps all for the vast majority of players, and if McDavid sees the chance to win here he signs on again and stays. If not, he moves on.

WHAT ABOUT LEON?

Apr 14, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) and San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture (39) chase a loss puck during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

So, given the kind of money McDavid will be commanding with his next contract, what is Draisaitl’s next contract worth as a RFA after he finished eighth in the NHL scoring with 77 points and then followed that up with 16 points in 13 playoff games? How much term does he get?

We’ve seen what paying two players in excess of $20 million combined over any length of time has done in Chicago with Kane and Toews. In a salary cap world, that limits what a GM can do with the rest of his roster. That much we know. So, if McDavid gets in the neighborhood of $11.5 million, if not more, how does that play out for Draisaitl?

Chiarelli has already said that inking Draisaitl is a priority, but, as good as he was this season and in the post-season, he is clearly the second-banana to McDavid. That doesn’t mean Draisaitl has to settle for spare change, but with other big tickets still on the payroll as of now – $6 million for both Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – that will play into things. It has to, at least until some of that money gets moved.

A lot of people are pegging Draisaitl at $6 million to $7 million a season. I think that’s a reasonable range and where Chiarelli would like to land when the ink is finally done. As for term, I’d certainly be willing to buy some UFA years with Draisaitl. I’m just not sure how many. Might a bridge deal for $35 million over five years be the answer?

For me, getting contracts for young, emerging stars like McDavid and Draisaitl completed for under $20 million combined per season would be a win because that would provide at least some wiggle room when it comes to addressing the rest of the roster down the road. Of course, Chiarelli’s comfort level may vary from mine.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • ed from edmonton

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out. Especially wrt LD. One can make a strong argument that he was the bets player on the Oil over the last 1/3 of the season (say last 20 regular season games and 13 playoff games).

  • T.J.F.M

    5yr/$35 Million for Draisaitl would not be paying for any UFA years. Does he not have 5 years of RFA status remaining, due to the slide rule from his first year?

    • Five years covers the rest of Draisaitl’s RFA years. The five years for $35 million is a bridge deal if — as I noted — there is lack of certainty about how many UFA years the team is willing to buy at this point. Chiarelli could well opt to go for the max term (eight years) now.

  • Spydyr

    If I was in either players place I would take a five year deal. It offers financial freedom, another huge contract at twenty-five and the ability to move if that is what you desire in five years.

    I know this will not be popular here and It would be wonderful if they both did indeed sign for eight years.

    • Yelak

      They could resign Mcdavid for 3 years and Draisaitl for 4 years. That would let them both expire as an RFA status. They would both have contracts up at the same time if this happened as well in 2021.
      I would personally just rather sign them both to 8 year deals though. Then you know exactly where you are at for a long time with how you can build the rest of your team.

  • thprop

    So lets just think about this….Kane is 10.5 and McD outscored him by 11 points….so how much are those 11 points worth? Is it enough for league max? Is it really absurd to think he won’t be offer-sheeted now? McDavid and his agent are already talking about a five year deal with an eye towards an even bigger payday and the chance to pick their next team…..cue the circling buzzards. Back up the Brinks truck pay him league max and buy as many of his free agent years as humanly possible.

    • P0pcan

      But Conner needs to look at it like I can be like Crosby who isn’t even the highest paid player on his team and win cup after cup or he can be like ovechkin and get no closer then I am sitting on my couch watching the game I’m sure that ovi would pay 10 mill out of pocket to have his name on the cup

  • Explicit

    Anything over 10 mil a year seems too much tonne after 1 1/2 years no matter how good. I hope the kid wants to be on a good team rather than take all the cap room

    • OriginalPouzar

      1) yes, its absurd to think he’ll be “offer-sheeted” as that can’t happen until July 2018 whereas he will be re-signed in July 2017

      2) McDavid and his agent are not talking about a 5-year deal with an eye towards a bigger payday – they haven’t said a single word publicly – its all media speculation at this point – simply speculation.

    • thprop

      8 Million! You sir are delusional!
      Who are his comparables….J. Benn 9.5 mill this year, Getzlaf 9.0 mill this year, OReily 9.0 mill this year!
      Or maybe you think he is more elite than those three….Kopitar 13 mill, Crosby 10.9, Ovie 10 mill…!
      9.5 is a starting point anything 11 million or under would be a steal!

  • OilRider

    I find some of these crazy estimates yo be difficult to believe. Not that it’s impossible for McD to get $11M/yr, but still.

    You bring up Crosby and Stamkos’ “mega-deals” that they got as UFA’s. Crosby gets $8.7M/yr and Stamkos gets $8.5. Sure, Crosby’s was signed before the term limit came in, so his overall total is pretty high, but Stamkos’ was signed under the current rules. Kane and Toews have won multiple cups and have led the closest thing we have to a modern day dynasty. Plus all of these guys signed these contacts as vets.

    Obviously McDavid is going to make bank. I just find some of these projections crazy for a guys that’s only been in the league 2 years. Even if he is a generational talent.

  • Spoils

    decided to watch a game from late in the season, due to a little withdrawal. couple things to note – McDavid is better than I remembered! If Nuge/Lucic/Ebs started together next year, I wouldn’t complain. i’m actually pretty interested to see what they can do…

    now- consider McD, Nuge, Drai, Nurse, Larsson, Klefbom, Puljajaarvi, Benning all get better. and we add 2 or 3 quality pieces…

    i think this team wins the Stanley Cup next year.

  • Hrkac Circus

    I would think (hope) that a 5 year deal reduces the AAV of the contract. The club is no longer paying for UFA years and it offers the player more flexibility. I’d be OK with 11-11.5/yr on an 8 yr deal but if he’s going to sign for 5, 9.7M sounds like a better number. Same with Leon just subtract 25%.

  • RJ

    Does anyone else think these articles are a bit of a hustle?

    Yes McDavid is the best Oilers player in 20 years. Yes winning Art Ross at 20 shows how special he is.

    But does McDavid max out his cap hit, or take a little less than he could so that there’s enough cap space to bring in quality players around him?

    You can look at any sport with a cap. Teams where you have one or two max players tend to struggle compared to teams where everyone takes a little less than max to make sure everyone gets paid.

    I think this is a bit of a PC hustle. Set the bar at the max, and whatever McDavid comes in at under the max shows how great a negotiator PC is.

    He could have gotten $14m, but PC got him to $10m! He’s the best!

  • Chainsawz

    I think Chiarelli wins the day if he can both guys to sign contracts leaving them with 1 season of RFA status left after the contracts up. McDavid at $9.7 mil AAV. Draisaitl at $7 mil AAV (between the Tarasenko and Gaudreau AAV’s).

  • TrentonL

    Beware the Draisaitl deal.
    As great as he’s been everyone’s favorite whipping boy Ebs had 195 gp/68g/88a/156p in his first 3 seasons (including career high 76p season) vs Leon’s 191 gp / 50g/87a/137p including this 77 point campaign.
    Bridge deal all the way downside is too high bargaining based on what could be a career season.

    • RJ

      I don’t think fans talk about this kind of stuff enough. You look at Eberle in his early years vs this past seasons, and I can’t help but think opposing teams defend him differently. The thing about Eberle is that he hasn’t added any new wrinkle to his game 5×5 since how long?

      There was a lot of talk about working with a shooting coach last off-season, but afterwards he looked like the same player. A one-timer would really have added to his game, especially if he was playing beside McDavid.

      I would contrast that though with Drai. His skating was not great his rookie season, and its much better now. He was not strong at FO%, but he was much better this season (40 to 49%). Wouldn’t be surprised to see him break 50% next season. Seems motivated to continue to improve, whereas you don’t really see Eberle drive to improve (though to be fair he did try to play more defensively and more physical during the playoffs).

      If I was going to bet on one of the two to improve the next few seasons, I’d bet it all on Drai.

  • OnDaWagon

    Maybe McDAVID will win the Heart trophy for the regular season. He should also be considered for the HEARTLESS trophy for the playoffs. I’m not interested in him spreading his wings against easy teams, I want to see him step his game up in a big way, in tough situations. Simply because in this years playoffs, he was at best, a bottom 6 player.

  • Alberta Ice

    Chiarelli probably has to sign McDavid first because signing Draisaitl first implies that Draisaitl is more important to the Oilers than McDavid. Things will definitely be interesting over this summer on the signing new contracts front.

  • Freddie the fog

    Well heres hoping that Mcdavid will want to leave some money in the budget to ice a strong supporting cast. 10×5, or 11.5×8 . With Drai i would caution that we’ve seen one big year. Much of that year playing with Connor. 6.25×5 sounds about right to me.