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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Will Draisaitl’s contract be a problem?

My Nation compatriots, it’s Mailbag time again and that means that you’ve submitted your questions for our panel of geniuses wizards wonder men writers to assess and pass along a chunk of free wisdom that you’ll be able to carry with you for the rest of your lives. As always, I need questions for next week so please send any question you may have to me through email or on Twitter. For now, it’s time to learn something.

Mar 23, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot (67) takes a shot on goal in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1) Blake asks – What were your first thoughts on the Pouliot buyout?

Lowetide:

I thought there must have been a good reason. A trade option that is coming through and needs more money. Also thought for a second about a Leon Draisaitl offer sheet, but Edmonton could have matched while also retaining BP.

Jonathan Willis:

That it didn’t make sense. Maybe something will happen on July 1 to clear it up (I’m writing this response on Thursday) but unless that happens it certainly looks to me like the Oilers would be better off just hanging onto him for the year if they weren’t able to make a retained salary trade. Even buying him out next season would be helpful, because it would knock a year off of the buyout penalty.

Jason Gregor:

A bit surprised. I don’t like the idea of two years of “dead cap space” of $1.3 million. I thought he could still help the 4th line and in case of injuries or inconsistent play from Maroon, Lucic or Caggiula he could move up for a short time. He is a perfect example of why you’d rather over pay and give a short term than overpay on more years. If his deal was three years they could have re-signed him to a similar deal Buffalo gave him or let him walk.

Robin Brownlee:

No surprise and good riddance to Pouilot, who is on his way to his seventh team. Was a bad signing. And please, if you’re a Pouliot backer, don’t leave out segments or entire seasons of his tenure, in an attempt to “prove” otherwise or put him in the most favorable light possible. The Oilers paid Pouiiot $4M a year for three seasons — the signing was lauded by some as a terrific move at that dollar amount when it was made — and they got 180 games and 84 points in return. He couldn’t stay healthy. He didn’t produce enough. He didn’t live up to the contract and was BOUGHT OUT. If that’s a victory for analytics, enjoy the celebration.

Matt Henderson:

My first thought was “why now?” Buying Pouliot out vs sending him to the AHL saves just $1.67 million this year but at the cost of an extra $1.33 million in 2020-2021. Considering the Oilers will need all their cap dollars in McDavid’s prime it’s tough to see why they needed they $1.67 million THIS year.

Chris the Intern:

I felt it was a little premature but overall was happy to see it finally done.

Baggedmilk:

I just don’t understand the timing. You’re telling me there is no one that would have taken Pouliot at 50% retained salary? You’re telling me that burying him in the minors this year and buying him out next summer, limiting the buyout penalty to two years instead of four, wasn’t an option? Katz has the money and the Oilers don’t really need the cap space this year. It’s the coming years that are a problem. I don’t know, man. The timing was weird on this one for me and I don’t even really care about Benoit Pouliot. That said, I do care about how shallow the Oilers are on the wings.

2) Brandon asks – Why are all the same people who panned the Oilers for signing Hall, Ebs, and Nuge to $6mil deals right out of their ELC so eager to throw $7.5-10 at Drai after 2.5 years? McDavid I get, give him the bank, but as much as I like Leon this just doesn’t sit right with me and feels shortsighted.

Lowetide:

I think there is an outer marker for Leon and IMO it’s about $7.5 million. Peter Chiarelli has to build a team and if Leon and his agent want $9.8 (or some such) this may not work out on a long term deal.

Jonathan Willis:

I can’t speak for those people. I can say that anything in the $8.0MM+ range would be an overpay for Draisaitl based on the second contracts signed by other players with similar production.

Jason Gregor:

If you look at Hall and Eberle’s production their contracts weren’t out of whack very much. The team lost, but those two weren’t the main reasons. I don’t see Draisaitl having much leverage to get more than $7.5million, although they likely will use the Kuznetsov contract will be used I’m sure. What a player agent asks for and what he gets are very different. Unless a team submits an unexpected offer sheet I see Draisaitl having a deal in the $7-$7.7 million range.

Robin Brownlee:

I didn’t like the rush to sign Hall, Eberle and RNH, particularly the latter two, to those contracts and I’m not comfortable talking about numbers north of $7M a season for Draisaitl after one terrific season either. Liking the player and believing he will live up to a big new contract based on a proven track record is one thing. I don’t think one regular season and one playoff run constitutes a track record.

Matt Henderson:

This city is still on a euphoric high after making the playoffs for the 1st time in a decade. Seriously. Chiarelli can do no wrong. The secret master plan is working. Draisaitl is a hero for almost vanquishing the Ducks on his own. A lot of people are just soaking in those happy joy joy feelings.

Chris the Intern:

Yes but unfortunately that’s the way hockey business goes. Drai was his right-hand man and has a half decent argument on his behalf. I hope he signs for six.

Baggedmilk:

No, but those are different because Tambellini and MacT signed them and they’re not Peter Chiarelli. #SarcasmFont. Honestly, I think that Leon is a fantastic young player and definitely deserves to get paid but that has its limits — he’s not Connor McDavid.

If Leon really is asking for the moon then I want to know how hard Chiarelli is pushing back with a bridge deal? Draisaitl has no leverage here aside from sitting out or maybe having an offer sheet come through from another team so what’s the need to make it an eight-year extension?

3) John Ryan asks – After last year’s moves worked out so well, why do you think Peter Chiarelli is being pummeled for every move he’s made so far this year?

Lowetide:

I think Oilers nation fractured on June 29, 2016, and there are now two rival groups of fans, probably three if you include those who feel comfortable on either side. I think this matters only if the Oilers spent the McDavid years without winning. A Stanley Cup will heal all wounds. 

Jonathan Willis:

Your question starts from a different assumption than most of Chiarelli’s critics are starting from. That assumption is that Chiarelli’s moves drove those positive results. Someone more critical of the GM could point out that a lot went right for the Oilers last season. Health, for starters – the team had no significant injuries. Talbot was able to play a zillion games, and play them well, which undid the damage of the misguided Gustavsson signing. And, most important of all, the best player in the world played all 82 games. I’m not trying to write the GM out of this – his 2015 moves for Talbot and Sekera, for example, were vital to the Oilers success in 2016-17 – but just highlight that there isn’t necessarily a straight line from “the Oilers were good in 2016-17” to “the Oilers’ GM was brilliant in the summer of 2016.”

Jason Gregor:

I haven’t ripped him. I think he has done fine. It is rare to see a young team coming off a 103-points season make significant moves. Chiarelli is positioning himself to evaluate his team during the season and with cap space make some moves. Time will tell if his strategy is correct, but I understand wanting to see a young team grow organically rather than make a big splash. Also, I find some people don’t want to credit the GM when the team goes well. The Larsson trade, Russell and Benning signings completely re-vamped the RD. He acquired Maroon and Kassian and Lucic, but because Lucic didn’t dominate 5×5 the signing sucks for the detractors. Longterm it might be a concern, no doubt, but last year his moves made a significant impact on the improvement of the team. Some people will never be satisfied, they will complain no matter what. I wouldn’t listen to those who only criticize or complain. You need to read and listen to those with a balanced approach. One bad move doesn’t overrule four or five good ones. No GM has a perfect record, but his moves had the team improve massively last year, so he should get credit for that. He hasn’t made many move this year and I think that is what people are concerned about. He has a clear plan, and this season we will find out if it is the right one. There is no doubt his lack of moves has left him open for criticism, but it is premature to rip him until we see if his plan to stay patient and grow internally works well or not.

Robin Brownlee:

Don’t agree with your premise.

Matt Henderson:

Last year he took risks on Lucic and Larsson that changed the makeup of the team. This year he has done almost nothing except removed Eberle and Pouliot. With the Hall trade (which is not universally loved) you can say that the loss in skill was made up by the balance of the roster. This year the team just got worse and we’re waiting for the part that looks like more balance.

Chris the Intern:

Cause that’s what Oiler fans do. We’ll never be happy.

Baggedmilk:

I think it’s fair to wonder what he’s doing when every other team seems to be trying to get better while the Oilers have appeared to move away from the buffet. Last season, the Oilers made it to game 7 of the second round and lost to Anaheim which blew away most people’s expectations, but have they gotten better? Frankly, they’ve gotten worse as Strome is not as good of a player as Jordan Eberle and they haven’t brought in anyone to replace Benoit Pouliot. When you couple that with Sekera’s injury then I don’t think it’s crazy to wonder how the Oilers are supposed to get better?

4) Lance asks – Which GM has had the best offseason so far and why?

Lowetide:

Too soon to know. As I write this we haven’t reached free agency. This time next week we’ll have a better idea.

Jonathan Willis:

Again, I’m answering this prior to July 1, so all GM grades are tentative at this point. Right now I’m inclined to point to John Chayka in Arizona – he got a new goalie, a top centre, shed Mike Smith’s contract, added one of the best shutdown defencemen in the league. The Coyotes need to add some help in the present, lest their rebuild continues indefinitely, and they did it.

Jason Gregor:

The Cup is rarely won in July, despite all the excitement. Rangers signing Shattenkirk to only four years was a great move. He is a big upgrade on Girardi. And Jeff Gorton relieved himself of a second line $6.5 million centre in Stepan. I’ll go with NYR.

Robin Brownlee:

I like the work Brad Treliving has done down the road in Calgary, particularly the acquisition of Travis Hamonic.

Matt Henderson:

I think Nashville has done some interesting things and they seem to be right in the mix for Duchene too. So let’s call it Nashville.

Chris the Intern:

I hate to say it but Calgary’s, unfortunately, impressing me a little too much right now.

Baggedmilk:

I hate to say it, but it’s arguably Brad Treliving in Calgary. He’s checking off all kinds of boxes for the Flames and it’s hard to ignore the work he’s doing to that roster.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on South Las Vegas Boulevard.

5) Jake asks – Rumours of McDavid and Draisaitl’s big contract asks in within the context of a $75 million cap is worrisome. However, Las Vegas will be entering the league this year and with this comes greater league revenues. To what extent do you think that Las Vegas’ revenues will impact salary cap calculations moving forward?

Lowetide:

Probably best to wait and see. I don’t think we should assume higher revenue because it now divides by 31. Definitely, something to watch.

Jonathan Willis:

Not a lot. Vegas adds new revenue to the NHL, but also adds 23 new jobs – and the new expenses that go with them. So unless Vegas takes in revenue at a rate higher than the average NHL club, it won’t exert upward pressure on the salary cap. There’s also the matter of centralized revenue to consider (i.e. the World Cup of Hockey, TV deals in Canada and the US, etc.) but I don’t think a 31-team league is going to make a lot more money there than a 30-team league did.

Jason Gregor:

They should draw well, but I haven’t looked at their ticket prices to see how much revenue they are projected to make, but I don’t see them adding a massive increase to the salary cap right away because they aren’t adding to the TV revenue. I suspect the cap will grow at about the same rate as the past few seasons.

Robin Brownlee:

One team won’t sway league revenues — for good or bad — much. Any gains made in one city, like Las Vegas, can be lost in another.

Matt Henderson:

Yeah, the league revenues go up, but now those revenues get divided between yet another team. I think the Cap will probably not go up (substantially) until weak earners like Arizona are purged from the league. That’s the real drain. It’s not like Vegas has some massive TV market that is going to lead to a hojillion dollar TV deal.

Chris the Intern:

I can only assume the cap will rise and this is exactly how I’m dealing with a huge Connor and Leon contract.

Baggedmilk:

I mean, you’d hope so. You’d hope adding the 31st team to the league would increase league revenues but who’s to know for sure? They said the cap was going to be flat this season and it actually went up by just under 3%. If I’m guessing, I’d say that the cap will keep going up regardless of Vegas but maybe that’s just a pipe dream?

  • 24% body fat

    Everyone keeps saying the cap will go up. Problem is, the last two years it was the players and not revenue that pushed the cap up. This is artificially increasing the cap, and escrow is getting bigger. This will likely have an effect when it is time for a new CBA and a cap growth bubble awaits. It actually would have been better for the oilers with a stagnant Cap this year. This way McDavid and Draisaitls contracts if tied to percentage would be lower, and than future increases, if any, would lower their cost relative to the cap.

  • nuge2drai

    Maroon McDavid Draisaitl
    This will be the most dominant line in the NHL.

    Lucic Nuge Puljujarvi
    15 Million dollars worth of Secondary Scoring.

    Cagguila Strome Kassian
    Third line has potential for 45 goals, solid mix of players.

    Khaira Letestu Slepyshev
    One of the best 4th lines in hockey imo.

    As much as I would like to see an Iginla or Jagr signing, chia may decide to give this group a chance to see what he has before using the remaining cap space(est. 10 mil after Drais extension). If these players don’t perform, they are gone. That is the Chia way.

    Being in a position with minimal holes, a full roster and plenty of cap space should be celebrated. Not sure why there is so much doom and gloom.

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    I think he will get right where he should when you look at conparables 7.5-8 max. Who says he is looking for more? That is the assumption of everyone

  • madjam

    Overpaying Leon sets up a dangerous president for others and Oilers that might come to team and record excellent years riding along with Connor . What is Leon’s worth without Connor ? Example : If Maroon puts up 27-30 goals this year , does that make him a 6M dollar player ? We have as yet , not seen Draisaitl handle a line beyond being with Connor that spells out he is a super talent , etc.. Connor is driving up the price for Leon

  • Tombstone

    There wouldn’t be this problem is there was no salary cap. Now players want a percentage of the Salary Cap. If the salary cap keeps going up then the players are automatically worth more money regardless of production.

    • oilfan4ever

      If there was no salary cap we wouldn’t be in this problem because we wouldn’t be here. Without the cap the Oilers were out of the NHL many years ago.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Pouliot is a bad penny that has been circulating around the league. One wonders what he is like off the ice – it can’t be good. The buyout can only mean that chia is in ‘Win Now’ mode – to hell with the cap three years from now (for now)

    2. The comparables are indeed tarsenko et al and the arrow points to 7.5 to 8.5 if the oil wants to tie him up for max term. That’s too much cake for a 2C let alone a winger with such a short CV, but Offer sheets loom as other teams see him as a potentially great 1C. So maybe he settles for 7.5 for 3 years…

    3. I don’t think he’s being pummelled that much by that many. Certainly the sycophantic paid media hasn’t said much of anything bad – I don’t know if they have said anything bad. That will change at least with fans if he signs drai for big money and the team does – as i predict – miss the playoffs probably due to circumstances out of chia’s control (read: a regression to the mean on injuries).

    4. Post July 1 – it would seem Treliving is the most active but some of his deals could easily go sour. I agree with willis that AZ quietly is fixing a lot of issues.

    5. LV’s impact is null impact on the cap – one more small market revenue-generator – one more share to give out of revenues. The long-term impact potential is that if it is a success it may strengthen the value of franchises and embolden the league to expand to other markets. But until a second team moves into southern ontario to unlock value in a large media market expansion is cap neutral.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    As a loyal fan, who stuck with this team through all of the terrible years, I’m extremely insulted by the fact that the geniuses running the show brought back Howson AND brought in Keegan Lowe. It’s an embarrassment that a pro sports team is run this way…. they wait until a good playoff and good season (thanks talbot, mcdavid, Leon, Klef and larson), and until theirs distractions like the Drai contract and all of free agency to go and pull this, and try to sneak it by the fans. It’s a joke. Even in the past 11 years I’ve rarely questioned my loyalty to the team as much as I am right now. It’s just a joke. I’d actually like to know if anyone else who isn’t getting paid by Katz or have some reason to suck up to the Oilers is honestly ok with these 2 deals. I’m honestly embarrassed to be an Oiler fan after those 2 moves. Just gross.

    • Bagged Almond Milk

      I watched Keegan lowe in the whl, he didn’t even belong there…. it’s an absolute embarrassment that he’s all of a sudden in the Oilers organization. And howson, I know he was a scapegoat last season for the other 2 idiots that got promoted, and I wasn’t happy with that, but now that the fans have settled down they bring him back? I’m honestly worried there’s too much back scratching going on for this team to ever be as good as it should be. There’s a huge opportunity with McDavid, talbot etc, and I’m worried the smartest guys in the room are gonna flush it away. Nothing short of embarrassing. If the rumors are actually true that the oil employ people to comment positively on this site, I want you to tell your bosses that some fans are absolutely not ok with either of those deals. I’m not stupid, and I’m not willing to overlook those 2 deals. It’s a joke….. it’s amazing, as soon as I start to like everything about this team (Pou and ebs gone) they go and insult the fans once again. Shame on you Katz. Shame on you Kevin. And shame on you Mac T.

    • Serious Gord

      Amazing. I didn’t know that and the news of both apparently hasn’t been published on this site…

      I’m loyal to the team. I AM NOT Loyal or in any way trustful of Daryl Katz. As I have posited here in the past, Katz has a psychosis when it comes to the Old Boys and is a determined nepotist/patronizer. He now has almost all of the old boys somewhere in the organization no doubt so he can put their names on the cup alongside theirs.

      While I very much want to see the Oil win the cup manifold more times it will annoy me to no end that Katz will have his name on it along with his now old boy lackeys…

      • Bagged Almond Milk

        It’s frustrating isn’t it. O well, I guess that’s just the way it is, he owns the team. Easier just to let it slide and not think about it… I don’t buy any of their garbage either… We are lucky to have McDavid, Talbot etc, as they are likely good enough to win despite certain individuals within the organization. If Keegan Lowe is ever in the top 6 Dman, or even up with the club for any amount of time, that’s when I will no longer be able to support this team. I actually feel somewhat sorry for him, he shouldn’t have signed in Edmonton, it’s just asking for criticism, which would be well deserved.

    • Bagged Almond Milk

      I’m seeing trashes but I don’t understand why. Whoever trashed it agrees that Howson and and Keegan Lowe should have been brought it? Cool, I’d rather the Oil win a cup but keep drinking the koolaide. Remember will Acton? What other teams do this type of stuff…. shame

      • Jason Gregor

        Keagan Lowe was signed to play on AHL team. He is a solid AHL defender. People likely trashed your ridiculous notion the Oilers pay people to positive things on this site. The Oilers made the playoffs. They won a round. They went to game seven of 2nd round. Why shouldn’t fans be positive. Don’t spread bullshit rumours, which are unfounded. Don’t spread needless stupidity. Hate on the Oilers all you like. Don’t spread BS, unproven rumours.

        • Bagged Almond Milk

          I said “if the rumors are true” that they employ people, as I have heard them myself. I did not claim that they were…. although it wouldn’t be the 1st time that a company or organization has employed someone to make them look good, and I believe it’s a fairly common marketing strategy. I actually would be surprised if they didn’t. My distrust of the organization doesn’t help my speculation, and neither do moves like the ones I was ranting about in the first place. In fact, they do the opposite. I was very positive about the Oilers progress myself, and pumped with every move they made in the off-season until the recent ones. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I should know better not to question the Royal Oiler family, as I’ve been told that they know a thing or two about winning, if there was ever any doubt.

  • btrain

    I definitely respect that Chia makes decisions and follows through on them, but I worry that this strength can also become a weakness. I mean you can’t help but respect a guy that is willing to take action and do what he thinks needs to be done. However, at some point its time to leave the Black Jack table when your up. The fact Kassian, Maroon, Larson, Talbot, Benning, etc have worked out so well is great, but it is also extremely fortunate. Way too early to evaluate his decisions this summer at this point, maybe more is to come, but this decision on Pouliot in particular has me scratching my head. Doesn’t seem to be any real reason to buy him out accept that Chia wanted him gone. Unfortunately this comes with a cost and not sure the benefit of immediate but not desperately needed cap space outweighs the long-term cap penalty and less depth.