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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Is Leon Draisaitl worth $9 million?

The Edmonton Oilers have two massive contracts to negotiate this summer, with Connor McDavid’s reportedly done the focus moves to Leon Draisaitl.

As Connor McDavid’s contract is finalized, both TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Mark Spector speculate that Draisaitl’s contract might be closer to McDavid’s than most originally thought.

Oilersnation colleague Cam Lewis looked at Draisaitl’s next contract in a previous post. At that time Draisaitl was 25th in league scoring with 25 points, but he would end up within the top 10 and score 16 points in 13 playoff games.

Could Draisaitl really get around $9 million a season, especially if McDavid makes over $13 million a year?

DRAISAITL VS OTHERS

Apr 26, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) shoots for an open net goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Edmonton won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

To find out what similar players earned, I searched for players that scored within 20 percent of Draisaitl’s last two seasons. I excluded his rookie year since he played 12 minutes a night and will only use the last two seasons before a player signed their big contract. This selection includes players scoring around 55-points a season (0.67 points per game) and as high as 80-points a season (0.99 points per game), which represents Draisaitl’s last two years nicely. I also used contracts signed within five years as they were signed around a similar cap climate.

Player Age PPG Cap Hit % of Salary Cap Years
Johnny Gaudreau 23 0.89 6.75 9.25 6
Leon Draisaitl  21 0.83 TBD TBD TBD
Vladimir Tarasenko 23 0.82 7.5 10.27 8
Evgeny Kuznetsov 25 0.82 7.8 10.4 8
Jordan Eberle 22 0.80 6 10 6
Sean Monahan 21 0.77 6.375 8.73 7
Filip Forsberg 21 0.77 6 8.22 6
Taylor Hall 20 0.76 6 10 7
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 20 0.74 6 9.33 7
Jeff Skinner 20 0.73 5.725 9.54 6
Mark Scheifele 23 0.71 6.125 8.39 8
Evander Kane 21 0.68 5.25 8.75 6

Draisaitl has some strong company, including some current and past Edmonton Oilers.

If the Oilers want to sign Draisaitl for eight years like McDavid then Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov are the closest matches.

Tarasenko was two years older than Draisaitl when he signed, but was a better goal scorer and also had four years of restricted free agency left compared to Draisaitl’s five (Draisaitl was sent before he could accrue one season towards unrestricted free agency his rookie season).

Kuznetsov’s new deal is a nice comparable for Edmonton. Kuznetsov is older but has been playing centre full-time for Washington. He only had two years left until unrestricted free agency, whereas Draisaitl has five.

The Mark Scheifele contract is great, but the Jets signed him after he scored 61 points in 71 games in 2015-16 and went long term before he had his 80-point year.

Johnny Gaudreau and with Calgary settled on a six-year deal worth $6.75 million per year just before the beginning of the season. Unlike Draisaitl, Gaudreau wasn’t eligible for an offer sheet, so he was at the mercy of the Flames.

Jordan Eberle is an interesting name. He scored similarly to Draisaitl and was only one year older, but shot 18.9% the year he had 76 points (Draisaitl shot 16.9% last season). The Oilers signed him the same summer as Taylor Hall, with matching $6 million cap hits. Eberle wasn’t the 70-point super sniper they thought and would settle around the 60-point range.

None of these players broke $8 million a year, let alone $9 million. Kuznetsov got the highest percentage of the salary cap when he signed at 10.4%. Maybe Draisaitl gets a bit of a bump and creeps into the $8 million range due to his age, although Edmonton has a lot of restricted years left, Washington was buying more unrestricted years with Kuznetsov.

Draisaitl’s been a pretty good scorer, so maybe there are more comparable scorers if we go back five years further. We’ll look from 2006-11 as well.

Player Age PPG Cap Hit % of Salary Cap Years
Anze Kopitar 21 0.90 6.8 11.9 7
Patrick Kane 21 0.88 6.3 11.09 5
Jonathan Toews 21 0.84 6.3 11.09 5
Bobby Ryan 23 0.83 5.1 8.59 5
Leon Draisaitl  21 0.83 TBD TBD TBD
Thomas Vanek 23 0.80 7.1 14.2 7
John Tavares 20 0.75 5.5 8.55 6
Patrice Bergeron 21 0.72 4.75 10.8 4
Ryan Getzlaf 22 0.69 5.3 10.5 5
Phil Kessel 21 0.65 5.4 9.51 5
Corey Perry 23 0.65 5.3 9.39 5

Anze Kopitar is a common player comparison for Draisaitl. Kopitar had a stronger resume as a full-time centre and got a seven-year deal at the beginning of his third season.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are close to Draisaitl and their 11.09% of the salary cap would mean $8.3 million per year contracts today. Although, those deals were signed when the cap was rising rapidly.

Thomas Vanek’s contract was given to him by the Oilers and has the highest percentage of the salary cap here in an attempt to steal him via an offer sheet back in 2007.

There’s a few more players here that make a contract around $8 million more believable. Kopitar’s second contract today would be close to $9 million today, but he was much more proven as a scorer and as a centre than Draisaitl was. Kopitar also had one less year of restricted service owed.

WHAT ABOUT MCDAVID?

If Connor McDavid is making $13.25 million, how can Draisaitl make almost $5 million less per year than his Edmonton teammate? Well, McDavid is just that good. McDavid’s comparables were basically Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin. All are arguable generation talents. McDavid got a similar percentage of the cap as Crosby, but the extra three years on his contract is the big win for Edmonton.

There’s a lot of Crosby and Malkin comparisons for McDavid and Draisaitl, but Draisaitl isn’t Malkin.

Malkin scored 1.19 points per game in the two seasons before signing his second contract. Draisaitl has 0.83 points per game. Draisaitl is a great player, but comparisons to McDavid, or even Malkin, aren’t fair. McDavid is a unique scenario and his contract shouldn’t affect Draisaitl’s.

There’s not a real case for Draisaitl to get a contract over $9 million. Based on previous players, a contract around $7.5-8 million would make the most sense. The Oilers will have likely overpaid if the annual average value gets close to $9 million.

  • IRONman

    12 million, and 8 million

    97 and 29 are the Real Deal. 177 pts. 20 million over 8 yrs,,,,97 will still be top Nhl at 28 years old. I believe this deal is done and will be reported this week.

  • madjam

    I am estimating Draisaitl at 9.25 M and Connor at 13.25M eating up 30% of cap . 75times 30% = 22.5 M . Neither player will get the maximum 20% , which is equivalent to 15M .

  • tkfisher

    This won’t be a popular comment, but the Oilers could sure use an offensive second pairing RHD… Kind of like that guy in Pittsburgh, with two Cup rings, who scored 51pts in only 72 games, and was worth signing to a theee year deal at 5.5 million/year. If only our management didn’t knee cap him as a rookie by feeding him to the wolves, with no shelter, and no mentor until his confidence eroded and the fans ate him alive.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    I could see this deal taking until September to get straightened out if they don’t go to arbitration. Although no one wants Arbitration it would give Leon a fair $6.5M-7.5M salary for a year or two. Then they can renegotiate the $9M when the cap jumps just a little more and he’s worth that amount.
    What I think we’d all like to see is to have McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s agents told that they have $20M to split and they can decide what that looks like between them. Too bad reality isn’t so simple.

  • madjam

    30% of cap today for both would be 22.5 M ( 9.25 Leon and 13.25 Connor) . By 8th year and a rise of 3M cap a year averaged over next 8 years , those two would only be drawing 22.5 % of cap space or less .

  • madjam

    Gotta admire the strength of the new Dallas club this year with their new additions all around . Pitlick may have lucked out going to that loaded club . They’ll be the team to beat in Western Conference I believe .

    • Shredder

      Plus they underperformed last season – just look at the one before it. Dallas is improved, and they’ll make the playoffs as a top 3 seed in the Central, but “the team to beat in the West” I doubt a bit. Flames look better, Anaheim is still good, Nashville is right up there, and oh yeah…the Blackhawks. The league has a ton of parity making every game a challenge. I don’t see any dominant team right now (maybe Pens), but think it’s more about which teams aren’t any good…no easy wins anymore.

  • ScottV

    There were other priorities that McL could have pursued, that arguably might have worked out better for the team last year and for the future, beyond creating conditions for max performance / points for McD and Drai.

    Now we have a nightmare on our hands.

    More could have been done to get Lucic, Nuge, Eberle, Pouliot, Kassian and even Puljujarvi going. McL’s lack of patience on that blender button and his short sighted dependence on the Maroon – McD – Drai line, should have prompted PC to get more involved.

    I’m not for holding back on McD – Drai, unless there are real good reasons – like doing what is best for the overall team. One of McL’s key job description points – is getting the most out of his players. All of his players. More than just the above players listed – under performed last year. Sure – some of it is on them. But – I would bet that in an off the record conversation, they are pissed at the way McL handled the use of the forwards last year and in particular – the over use of Maroon – McD – Drai.

    There was a balance in there somewhere, but for whatever reason McL didn’t strike it.

    • ed from edmonton

      This comment ranks right along with the “must play Yak with McD to get Yak going. You are suggesting the coach sacrifice games (maybe playoffs) for the sake of some possible contract negotiations. Its a good way for a coach to get himself fired. Coaches have a one word job description “win”.

  • 24_McClelland

    $7.5 mil is probably as much as you can go on a LT deal. You cannot give your #2 center, or even your #1RW what is by today’s standard what ELITE #1 centers are paid. If Leon can get the money elsewhere, entertain a trade or taking compensation on an offer sheet. Otherwise the Oilers risk seeing the best player in the NHL and a very talented sidekick long term, but no championships. We don’t care about Hart trophies, we care about Stanleys.

    • madjam

      Who would you rather have ? M.Scheiffle at 6.125 M for next 4- 6 seasons I believe , or Leon at close to 9M . Mark had 2 more points than Leon and played 2 fewer games .

      • pkam

        If I am correct, Mark Scheiffle still has 7 season left in his 6.125M contract. For similar salary, I will take Leon because Leon is 3 year younger and Scheifele only scored about 0.6 ppg when he was 21. But for almost 3M more, I will take Scheifele.

    • pkam

      I disagree with your argument that you cannot give your #2 center what elite #1 centers are paid. The Pens are paying their #2 center Malkin 9.5M and manage to win the SC in consecutive seasons. My argument is Leon is not as good as Malkin plus his contract includes 5 RFA years.

  • pkam

    I wonder why Barkov and MacKinnon are not in the list of comparable players. I think the players who are in very similar situation as Drisaitl are these two players plus Scheifele. All of them have only 4 RFA year, one less RFA year than Leon. Barkov signed for 6 years at 5.9M, MacKinnon signed for 7 years at 6.3M, Scheifele signed for 8 years at 6.125M. Based on these 3 second contracts, I don’t see why Leon will get more than 7M.

    I realize that all 3 teams of these 3 players didn’t make the playoff. But the question is will they make the playoff if they have McDavid in their roster, and will the Oilers make the playoff without McDavid playing 82 games? I agree Leon is a key contributor to our playoff, but can he do it by himself without McDavid? I doubt it.