Much of the NHL off-season discussion focuses on contracts. Leon Draisaitl is the only Oilers player in need of a new deal. He’ll eventually sign, but we are all curious to see for how long and how much. Ideally, both sides will reach an agreement before the preseason is over, so Draisaitl isn’t playing from behind when the season begins.
Training camp opens in 54 days. The Oilers preseason begins on September 18th and the puck drops on a new season on October 4th. The off-season has gone by quickly thus far, and today I want to talk contracts.
We’ve broken down Draisailt’s comparables numerous times (if you missed it, read here), so instead we’ll look at some other numbers.
Currently, the Oilers have 49 players signed.
Forwards (25): McDavid, Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins, Strome, Kassian, Maroon, Letestu, Jokinen, Slepyshev, Caggiula, Puljujarvi, Pakarinen and Khaira.
AHL projected: Callahan, Chase, Christoffer, Downing, Ferlin, Gambardella, Laleggia, Malone, Platzer, Rattie and Russell. Benson back to WHL.
D-men (18): Sekera, Klefbom, Larsson, Russell, Benning, Nurse, Gryba, Auvitu and Fayne
AHL projected: Bear, Betker, Jones, Lagesson, Lowe, Mantha, Paigain, Simpson and Stanton.
Goalies (6): Talbot and Brossoit.
AHL projected: Ellis, Pasquele and Starrett. Wells back to OHL.
When Draisaitl signs the Oilers will be at 50 contracts, but with Benson and Wells going back to junior, their contracts won’t count so the Oilers will be at 48.
Lagesson’s deal includes a European Assignment clause for 2017/2018 and I’d guess he plays in Europe. European teams spend more time on skill development in practice and having Lagesson play there with more time to improve his puckhandling and passing skills makes sense. That would have them at 47 when the season begins, with lots of wiggle room to make deals or sign other players.
The Predators have Victor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis at a combined $20.5 million cap hit.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) July 22, 2017
That is a great number for the Preds and all five are signed for at least two more years. Ellis needs a new deal in 2019/2020 and Josi is up the following year.
The Oilers’ best five deals at $20.5 million and under for this season would be: McDavid, Talbot, Klefbom, Larsson and Maroon for a total of $17.375.
The following year is difficult to do because so many Oilers will be in the final year of their existing deals. Nurse, Benning, Caggiula, Strome and Slepyshev will all get new deals, and at least two of them will likely be very good value. Talbot, Larsson and Klefbom will total $12.5 million, so two, three or even four of the aformentioned players could make up the other $8 million.
Nurse and Benning’s next deals will be very interesting. Ellis had 6-21-27 in 80 games during the final year of his ELC and then signed a five-year extension worth $2.5 million prior to the 2014/2015 season. It was a great signing by GM David Poile. Would Nurse or Benning sign a five-year deal?
Ellis signed his extension on September 26th, 2014, when the salary cap was $69 million. That would be equivalent to $2.8 million if the cap is $77 million next season.
We often focus on the “bad” contracts teams have, but many teams have solid value contracts and with Larsson and Klefbom signed for four and six more years respectively, Chiarelli is in a good position to lock up Nurse and Benning on solid deals.
Is a long-term deal more realistic or a two-year bridge deal?
Some other players to compare.
Sami Vatanen signed a two-year bridge at $1.625 million/year in July 2014. He then signed a four-year deal in June, 2016 at $4.875 cap hit.
David Savard signed two years at $1.3 million/season in 2014. A year later he signed a five-year extension at $4.25 mill/year, but it didn’t kick in until last year.
Mark Pysyk signed for two years at $1.125 million per season in the summer of 2015. He signed a three-year deal at $2.733 cap hit earlier this month.
Ryan Murray signed a two-year deal with a $2.85 million cap hit in Feb of 2016. This is the final year of his deal.
Jacob Trouba signed a two-year deal for $2.812 million/season. He signed it last November after holding out the first month of the year. He had 6-15-21 in final year of ELC.
Matt Dumba signed for two years worth $2.55/year last summer. He had 10-16-26 in final year of his ELC.
Those are just a few examples. Ellis’ deal was rare. He signed a long-term deal at only $2.5 million. I’d be surprised if Benning or Nurse signed a long-term extension during the year. A two-year bridge deal would be possible during the season, but looking at the timeline for recent signings of defenders exiting their entry level deals, most happen after the ELC expires.
- It is WHL Week on my show this week. Every day from 3-5 p.m. we will focus specifically on the WHL and major junior hockey. We will be discussing education, scholarships, the bantam draft, the current lawsuit against the CHL, coaching, developing and much more. We have a wide range of guests for each day. You can tune in at TSN1260 or stream it live here.
- A quick look at the Oilers contracts for forwards and the list of names on the AHL-projected shows very little high-end offensive depth. Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Benson and Kaiker Yamamoto are their best bets. Puljujarvi will get a look this year, while Benson needs a healthy season in the WHL and Yamamoto will most likely play at the World Juniors for Team USA and be a top scorer in the WHL. The latter two won’t be rushed, as the Oilers have many young forwards on their NHL roster, but in two or three years the Oilers will need some forwards on their ELC who can produce.
- San Jose has not added anyone to their roster and they lost Patrick Marleau to Toronto and David Schlemko in the expansion draft. The Anaheim Ducks added Ryan Miller as their backup and moved Shea Theodore to Vegas. The LA Kings added a new coaching staff, forward Mike Cammalleri, D-man Christian Folin, and backup goalie Darcy Kuemper and Brayden McNabb went to Vegas. The Oilers moved Jordan Eberle to NYI, didnt’ re-sign David Desharnais and added Ryan Strome, Jussi Jokinen and Yohann Auvitu. Calgary has made the most moves. They acquired Travis Hamonic, Mike Smith and Eddie Lack and signed Spencer Foo as depth. They traded Chad Johnson to Arizona, lost Deryk Engelland to Vegas, bought out Lance Bouma and didn’t re-sign Dennis Wideman and Brian Elliott.
- I’m surprised how many think the Flames are suddenly the team to beat in the Pacific, mainly due to the Hamonic acquisition. I like him a lot, and their top-four D is very good, but with Smith’s recent injury history their goaltending is far from a lock and they added no proven NHL scoring. Ranking the Pacific today I have Anaheim, Edmonton and Calgary with SJ and LA battling for fourth, Arizona in sixth, Vancouver seventh and Vegas eighth.
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