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Photo Credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Monday Musings: Money Talks

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.

Cap Savings

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.

QUICK HITS…

  • 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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • WhoreableGuy

    “I’m surprised how many think the Flames are suddenly the team to beat in the Pacific…”

    The NHL should award a Stanley Cup made out of paper to the Flames every off season since everyone thinks they have the best team on paper.

    Maybe hang a paper banner in the rafters of the Saddledome.

      • FuNky ANGER

        Classic Oiler banter … living in the 80’s glory days of how you have more cups than the Flames or Jets or Canucks. You don’t hear Leaf or Hab fans saying they have 10 or 20-sum more cups. Why … cause that happened a long time ago in a different era. But keep living in the past by all means.

    • FuNky ANGER

      I dont think many are saying the Flames are now the best team … they are simply saying that the Flames have made the best “Offseason Transactions” so far.

      • CODD_FATHER

        A 35yr old goalie and a career backup. The best transactions of the summer? I’ve never been one to indulge but when you inhale is it like a 10 second thing or much longer? 5 cups, 5 cups, 5 Stanley cup rrriiinnngggss.

  • TruthHurts98

    There is a lot of hype about the Flamers, but I’m not convinced they even make the playoffs this year. I think their goaltending hasn’t improved much if at all. Smith struggled with the equipment changes and is older this year. Lack is way more inconsistent than Johnson. Hamonic is injury prone and may or may not play a full season. I think the Ducks are the team to beat still and hope the Oil can pass them up.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I disagree that Drai needs to sign before the preseason games are over. In my opinion, we need Drai signed for the beginning of camp, or very close thereto. Training camp is important and we’ve seen many players get off to slow starts when they miss camp (Russell an exception last year).

    I’m worried about a slow start to the year for the team with Reggie out – If Leon is missing any games or not up to speed, that will be magnified.

    The Oilers have a favorable schedule early and, if they don’t take advantage of it, the could be playing catch-up all year long.

    The playoffs are not a lock!

  • Nanook

    I just don’t see Hamonic and Smith making a huge difference. I think the playoff experience our youngsters got and the fact that they are just going to get better separates us even more from the flames. Doesn’t matter who they got on defence, McDavid will just do what he does “shred D” Anahiem is the top dog and until we take them down they will stay and deserve to be considered the best in the division. But I think its a very close race once again.

  • TKB2677

    Well unless Smith and Hamonic make it so the Flames win most games 2-1, 1-0, where are the goals coming from?
    Gaudreau had a “down” year at 18-61. But Gaudreau is the Flames Eberle when Eberle was good. So a 25 goal guy. Big deal.
    Monahan had 27 goals last year. He had 31, the previous then 27, 27. He’s topped out at 27.
    Backlund had 22-53. Sorry, I don’t see him improving on that.
    Hamilton had 13-50. I don’t see him improving.
    Tkachuk had 13-48. I would be shocked if he score more than 20. Plus the dreaded sophmore jinx.
    Frolik had 17. That is typical for him.
    Giodano had 12. He’s getting older and slowing down.
    Versteeg had 15-37. That’s what he scores typically.
    Brodie had 6 -36. I don’t see him scoring a lot more.
    Bennett had 13 – 26. Could he get 20? Maybe but I doubt he gets more.
    Ferland had 13 goals-25. If he plays with gaudreau all year, does he crack 20? Maybe.
    Brouwer had 13 goals. He’s a 3rd liner. Could he get 15? Maybe.

    So if you look down the list. Where is all the extra goals coming from? Sure a few guys could have a year there they bump up a few. But there is no one on the cusp of bursting out. If Gaudreau has 10 more pts, is anyone saying he’s having a down year? Nope.

    • FuNky ANGER

      I feel you are neglecting the goals the Flames might also prevent this upcoming season. You have a few players that had a down year adopting to a entirely new system, plus they now have Stone as their #5D who can easily slide up to 4th due to injuries. They are a young team who will be older and more experienced and they too did get some more playoff experience. Yes they were swept by Anaheim. But if you were a Flames player, and you had a sour taste in your mouth from being swept from the playoffs and you see your GM making the moves to make the team better (on paper) you would be ecstatic about the upcoming season and would be training your ass off for redemption. Don’t dismiss a P-oed motivated player.

      • TKB2677

        The Flames despite their mediocre goaltending were in the top 1/4 of goals against in the league. With Smith and Hamonic, they might crack the top 10. Great. They were in the bottom 1/4 of the league in goals for. Smith and Hamonic don’t help with scoring.

        • FuNky ANGER

          Do you even understand fractions? 1/4 puts them in the top 10 for goals against … which they werent … and bottom 1/4 puts them as the 7th or 8th worst … which they weren’t. They were 14th and 17th (or reversed) or so for goals for and against.

          • Oil DAWG

            There’s no doubt the Flames will be better this year. I really hope so. It will just make it a sweeter BoA. It will also be more satisfying when we take the series. Other than that I hope the Flames kick the crap out of most other teams in the league. Make them all fear playing in Alberta!!!

      • Nanook

        The problem is they are not a lot better on paper. Smith and Elliot are basically a wash. Go look at their stats. Identical save% over their career and Elliot’s numbers are even better. Ill give that to being on a good Blue’s team but its no real upgrade. Hamonic would have been a great addition if it was addressing an area of need. Its adding to an area of strength. Defence was not the problem and adding Hamonic is not going to be a big enough change to make up for the weakness that was not addressed. If you cant put goals in the net, your not going to win, and I fail to see any improvement there. The worste part was Treliving completely mortgaged the future and did not address one single area of need. I think here in Edmonton we are qualified to talk about it. This is what our GM’s did for 10 years, Failed to address core team weaknesses. I would not be as “ecstatic” as you are about the upcoming season till I saw some improvement in the areas its needed first.

  • OilCan2

    Nurse & Benning would both go 5 years based on our Captain alone. The $ would be less but the upside would be more.

    The Dirty Ducks could drop to the middle of the pack if the Zebras grew a pair and called it by the rulebook.

    Flames: fore! Islanders: four! Oilers: four! (plus a bit:)

  • A-Mc

    Hmm, i didn’t know the Oilers were already at 49 Contracts.. That crushes the Jagr to the Oilers fantasy =)

    Are teams allowed to exceed the 50 contract limit during the off season? Coming into compliance by the start of the regular season? If anyone knows, please say something