Let’s Talk About Connor’s New Contract

Over the past couple days there has been information coming out about what Connor McDavid’s new contract will look like. According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, that number looks to be coming in around $13-13.25 million over eight years.

The first thing we’re going to get out of the way is the obvious fact that this is a lot of cake for only one player. At $13.25 million, Connor’s contract would be valued at 17.6% of the cap which is definitely high but, at the same time, we still don’t know what NEXT year’s cap will look like. Is it unreasonable to assume that adding Vegas into the mix will increase league revenues and raise next year’s cap, bringing down the overall percentage of McDavid’s deal? I don’t think so. Hell, this year’s cap was supposed to be flat but it still managed to go up just under 3%.

The fact that the Oilers were able to get Connor to be open to an eight-year contract is a huge win for the organization. There was plenty of talk about him taking five years which would have allowed him to walk away for nothing if he chose to do so, so getting him locked in at eight years makes a huge difference. Think about it this way, if Connor had signed a five-year contract for similar money then how much would he have looked for after those five years? It’s not crazy to think that he’d demand another raise after five years, right?

From where I blog, Connor McDavid will be worth every penny of this deal.

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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

While Connor’s contract will set a new record for the NHL in terms of dollars spent on a single season, it’s actually more in line with what other league superstars make than you may think. It’s also important to compare apples to apples when looking at these contracts. For that purpose, I’m going to look at what a few fellow superstars signed for and what that meant for the cap at the time of the signing:

  • When Crosby signed his second contract in 2007 for $8.7 million/year, that accounted for 17.3% of the cap at the time of signing (Cap: $50.3 million). Will the cap jump as much as it did for the first year of Sid’s deal? Probably not, but I seriously doubt that it won’t move at all.
  • The contract that Alex Ovechkin signed in January of 2009 was for 19% of that year’s cap (the cap went up the following season, bringing that percentage down, but at the time of signing it was 19%). The 2008/09 cap — when he signed his deal — was $56.7 million.
  • BONUS FACT! Brad Richards signed a new five-year, $7.8 million contract for the 2006/07 season, which accounted for 18% of the cap ($44 million).

My point is that you’re not going to get a Rolls Royce on Ford Escort pricing no matter how hard you try. If you want the best player on earth, you’re going to have to pay for it and the Oilers are going to do just that when it comes to Connor. Actually, it’s pretty funny to think that the Oilers are actually getting a better relative deal on McDavid than the Lightning got on Brad Richards. Think about that for a minute without laughing. The biggest problem the Oilers are going to have isn’t Connor’s contract, it’s going to be finding valuable guys that can play beside him that won’t break the bank in the process.

With this contract being eight years long, McDavid is committing four years of unrestricted free agency to Edmonton. A nightmare scenario for the Oilers would be a four-year deal at the max — which is 20% of the upper limit, or, $15 million annually right now — that takes him right to free agency. We can’t predict that the cap will explode the same way it did a decade ago, but it will certainly continue to rise over this eight year deal.


Mar 28, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a first period goal by forward Connor McDavid (97) against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

To me, the scariest part about Connor’s deal isn’t what McDavid actually signs for but rather what Leon is going to get. All along I’ve thought that Draisaitl was going to fall somewhere around the Tarasenko range ($7.5 million per) but now I’m not so sure. If Connor is going to get  $13.25 does that mean Draisaitl’s agent will try to push his client closer to eight figures? The Oilers had better hope not.

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When Toews and Kane signed their new deals on July 9th, 2014, they accounted for nearly 30% of the salary cap (at that time), which could be eclipsed by Edmonton if they’re not careful. To get there, Draisaitl’s new deal would have to come in at $9.3 million which I think we can agree is probably a little bit high for what he’s likely to get, but you never know. Regardless of what actually happens, the Oilers are going to need a few ‘6’s dressed up as ‘9’s if they’re going to make this work.

But seriously, how could you be fine with Milan Lucic and Kris Russell making a combined $10 million when a potential top-5 player of all-time makes $13.5 million? None of those other free agents the Oilers have signed took a discount, why should the generational talent do so? Also, don’t forget about the NHLPA. What happens to all of the players in the league if the league’s MVP takes a discount, ultimately driving everyone’s value down?

We’re going to have Connor McDavid, the best player in the world, signed for eight years. This is a good thing.


At the end of the day, the Oilers really only had two options — sign Connor to what he’s worth or risk losing him when the team control years ran out. Is $13.25 million per year over eight years a good deal to you? I’d argue that spending 17.6% of the cap on a guy that was in on 41% of the offence makes a world of sense to me, but I want to know what you think. What say you, Nation?

    • Freddie the fog

      With Vegas coming in league revenues will b up. And that should raise the Cap significantly more than the 3 mil increase this year. Lets say the cap rises to 80. So if your numbers are correct , my 80 mil cap projection will b close, that would leave 17 mil to sign 8,9 players. That is very doable. And besides some big contracts could b moved by then

  • Tombstone

    The people who are saying this is a bad signing and we won’t win the Stanley Cup, the one thing you’re forgetting what separates us from the rest of the league is that we get to watch McDavid every game.

  • toprightcorner

    I am happy with a $13.5 mill cap hit, but people have to stop comparing cap percentages with Malkin and Crosby as there is no way the cap will increase anywhere near the rate after they were signed. No more $8 mill jumps in the cap.

  • Tombstone

    Connor McDavid took a guy like Patrick Maroon and turned him into a 27 goal scorer. How many player could’ve done that? And how much is Patrick Maroon signed for ?

      • Homer

        Maroon is a great example of a guy punching way over his talent level, if I recall Dave Lumly once scored over 20 goals playing with Gretzky. Maroon will price himself off the team and go on to do nothing for his new team and we’ll add another guy who looks like nothing and put him with Connor and boom! Another 30 goal scorer is born. Look at how Pitt is rolling and that’s the model we’re following imho. Two top line centres a winger or two and a couple good dmen with a stud goalie

    • MrBung

      Why stop there. Oilers/McDavid can petition the NHL and NHLPA to revise the agreement and just sign him to the max cap amount and just ice one player – McDavid.

    • Lowe But Now High Expectations

      And that’s the point. The Hawks won cups. For these contracts to have full value, the Oilers will have to also win cups. When 20-22 million are invested in 2 players salary cap problems will eventually happen. It’s being able to take advantage of the window available.

    • bwar

      They won on cheaper contracts not the massive contracts they currently have. And every season the Hawks end up making more and more sacrifices because of those massive contracts.

  • OilBlood

    At 13.25 for Connor and who knows what for Drai, it really clears up why Chiarelli did not offer up those picks for Hamonic.

    We will definitely need some good players drafted on their ELC to play with these guys because we won’t be able to pay big $

  • ifiwasgm

    Connor is worth $25mil/yr. Unfortunately a player making more then 10mil/yr, limits a teams long term chances at winning Stanley Cups. (Crosby and Malkin recognized this)

    • Spydyr

      From the article:

      When Crosby signed his second contract in 2007 for $8.7 million/year, that accounted for 17.3% of the cap at the time of signing (Cap: $50.3 million).

      At $13.25 million, Connor’s contract would be valued at 17.6% of the cap.

      I hope you recognize that.

      • Hemmercules

        Lets hope the scary cap rises 26 million over Connors time with the Oilers like it did with Crosby and the Pens over the last 10 years.

        The deal was fair. Doesn’t make it easy to manage.

      • pkam

        At 2007, the cap raised 15+% every year the previous two years, so it would be reasonable to expect the cap to raise about the same. The last two years, the cap raise about 3% every year. If we factor the % of raise into the equation, Crosby’s 17.3% will be about 15% in his first contract year. Conner’s 17.6% will be about 17% in his first contract year. Not huge but still a 2% difference.

        • pkam

          Being said that, there is one big difference between the Crosby’s contract and McDavid’s contract. Crosby’s contract was 5 years, so only one UFA year. McDavid’s contract is 8 years, so 4 UFA years. I will have problem if Conner only signs for 5 years at 13M

      • Garett14

        The only flaw in your argument is the fact that the cap will not go up anywhere near the rate that it had previously. Those 8 million dollar jumps are a thing of the past.

    • Hemmercules

      When Crosby signed his most recent contract they were able to do 12 years. They signed him until he’s 38 and front loaded the hell out of it. Not so easy now with the limit of 8 years in length. Had the limit been 8 years back when Crosby signed in 2011 he would have a cap hit over 10 mil right now.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    It’s gonna be okay, guys. Connor just won the Hart, Ted Lindsay, and Art Ross. I remember the days when the Oilers couldn’t afford to pay superstars what they wanted and they all skipped town. Connor is worth every penny. He makes the players around him better. Worrying about how much money he makes is pointless. I’m looking forward to a 120-point season and a deep playoff run!

  • NZOF

    “does that mean Draisaitl’s agent will try to push his client closer to seven figures? The Oilers had better hope not.”

    I suspect you may have meant to write EIGHT figures here. $1,000,000 would be seven figures, and I’d be perfectly fine with that 😉

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’m totally fine with McDavid at $13.5m for 8 years. The kid’s worth every penny. It’s Drai at anything more than $8m per year that worries me.

    • SeethingRed

      The comparisons don’t matter…you can’t low ball him because then HE WILL consider offer sheets…Chia has to start at least close to what Drai wants or risk offending him…that is the issue. Lets just say Drai asks for 11 what does Chia counter with 6?

  • Explicit

    I don’t hate the deal, he got what he’s worth. it would’ve been nice if he took a bit more of a discount for the team like Stamkos did. Not complaining, it’s just gonna ring a little hollow next time Connor talks about how the team first.

    • Hemmercules

      Stamkos did take a bit of a discount in his first contract out of entry level considering the points he was putting up (I think he was only around 12.5% of the cap at the time). That was creative contract though, he signed a 5 year bridge and they dropped his last year by 2.5 mil giving them cap relief.

      Lets be real though, Stammer is not better than Crosby so they weren’t paying him more. McDavid on the other hand just won 3 nice trophies and he’s only 20 years old.

  • mb

    You all need to wait to see the structure of the contract. I understand it is different, there is some questions about if the NHL will allow it. Especially a provision regarding the posible lockout in 20-21. Like the Russell contract you need to pay attention to the details. And remember I posted the term first and the 13.25 mil a year, but the cap hit may not be that high. Waiting to see the details.

  • Flint

    McDavid is worth the money, but this is what I was referencing when I said that although most teams don’t even have a “Golden Window”, the Oilers most opportune window is closing. When Connor signs that contract for 13,25, boy is it ever going to slam shut. The Oilers will still be in a good standard competitive window, but it’ll be a heck of a lot more complicated after this season. Especially if Leon comes in north of 8million. 21million for those two in 18/19 will be a lot more complicated than the 7 it was this year. Hmm, signing Russell for 4×4?

  • Redbird62

    A few key facts about Crosby’s current contract which was his 3rd. Signed in June 2012 after he played only 63 games in the prior 2 regular seasons due to concussions. This was before the lock out and new CBA so contracts could be 12 years and Crosby went for the max term. The contract is front end loaded so annual salary was $12 million in its first year which was 2013-14 one year after he signed it. The salary steps down starting this past season. The last 3 years of the deal are at $3 million per season. Considering he will be 36-38 during those 3 seasons, it may be reasonable to assume that after his concussions, Crosby and the Pens might have had doubts he would play the full term of his contract. His average salary during the high paying 9 years of the contract is $10.6 million which is 16.5% of the cap in the year in which the contract became effective. So because at age 25 he could sign a 12 year deal with the 3 years when he might not be playing (see Hossa), it appears he was being much more charitable than what McDavid when truly the circumstances cannot be compared. It is in large part because of contracts like Hossa’s, Crosby’s and some others that the NHL owners negotiated terms of no more than 8 years, though they were trying for 5 year maximums.

  • Double Dees

    Numbers aside we all know how amazing 97 is and in saying so we can all expect him to be the humble kid he is and I know he will up his game to whole other level.

    The scary thing isn’t the money. It how much better he will be on the ice. Scary good.

  • Ridgeman

    TSN is reporting that Draisaitls camp is asking for $10 million per year. Two players making $23 million per year will not bring a stanley cup. just saying

  • Homer

    I wish he signed for cheaper but would any of us?!? Team friendly contract that proves he wants to play here what more can a guy ask for? Hopefully Leon signs an. 8×8 and Oilernation we’ll be celebrating cups for years!

  • Slipknot 8

    McDavid deserves every dollar and in fact anything lower than 15 million is a bonus.
    McDavids contract isn’t the one to worry about its Draisiatl’s contract.
    If he and his agent are asking anything above 7.5 then you broom Draisiatl.
    This is why you have an experience GM, it’s his job to make the team better not McDavids job to take less.

  • OilFarmer

    Why is the comparison to Crosby? Crosby won a cup before his contract, so did Kane, Toews, and Kopitar.
    Let’s compare to Ovi instead because like him Mcdavid hasn’t won anything yet. Great individual player and I love to watch him but it’s a team game and 1 guy doesn’t win the Stanley cup.