I’ve been zipping around the Al Gore over the last 24 hours, reading fan reaction to the Leon Draisaitl contract signing. I have discovered one thing: I’m too old for this. Folks, it’s a contract. Leon Draisaitl’s agent got him a good deal, and the Edmonton Oilers have a fine young player under contract for the heart of his career.
- I thought the Vladimir Tarasenko deal was a comparable, and that $7.5 million AAV deal was signed two years ago. Source.
- Draisaitl gets $1 million more per season and, even if you factor inflation, that is a lot.
- There is also the matter of free-agent seasons purchased. St. Louis bought four of Tarasenko’s unrestricted seasons, Edmonton three from Draisaitl.
It was a very sweet deal for the player, based on those factors, in my opinion. It is not fatal and does not represent the end of Stanley Cup hopes. You should not do any bloodletting! Do not sell the house!
My belief as a neutral observer would probably conclude Draisaitl wanted a little sweetener and the Oilers felt the player important enough to sign off. Why? I’ll say one part playoff performance, one part McDavid’s deal and Draisaitl’s perception of his own value, and one part drawing a little blood from the organization over that stunt demotion at the threshold sliver point of that first year of his contract.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?
The other issue is that Draisaitl’s offense has been delivered with help from an impact player in each of his two full seasons. Here are the totals with and without:
- Draisaitl with Hall 2015-16: At 5×5, Leon scored 2.32/60
- Draisaitl w/o Hall 2015-16: At 5×5, he scored 1.13/60
- Draisaitl with McDavid 2016-17: At 5×5, Leon scored 2.23/60
- Draisaitl w/o McDavid 2016-17: At 5×5, he scored 1.79/60.
All of these numbers are via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and I would link but that website no longer exists in public form. The numbers show a gap for Leon offensively without Hall and then McDavid. Although LD’s without number 97 this past season is better, you’d still like it to be over 2.00/60 for the big man. Perhaps we’ll see it this coming year.
Leon Draisaitl is going to be in his prime during the heart of this contract. He will be playing for the Oilers during what should be a strong decade for the team, and he should be front and center. There is a chance he performs admirably as a river pusher on his own line. Even if he ends up playing RW with Connor McDavid, becoming a very well paid complementary player, there is value in posting big numbers there and that duo can make magic in the NHL.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I will tell you I am pleased that Leon Draisaitl is signed for the next eight seasons and the cap hit (for me) isn’t as much of an issue. Why? Leon’s next eight seasons are likely to be his most productive. Peter Chiarelli need only find a value deal to cover the overage, something he has shown an ability to do during his career.
What’s more, the McDavid deal may mean youth shall be served more and more as time rolls along across the National Hockey League. This (paying youngsters at the end of their entry-level deals) may become the new normal. We may see the McDavid and Draisaitl deals differently down the road, although it will probably be less ‘visionary’ and more ‘causation’.
I felt $7.5 million was fair, even with one fewer UFA seasons than Tarasenko. Draisaitl received $8.5 million for eight years. Peter Chiarelli is going to have to find a way to add a value contract somewhere to make up for that gap. It is certainly possible.
Leon Draisaitl is getting paid before we really know what he is as a player. That’s a risk. It would have been a risk at $7.5 million, too. If you feel good about the Leon Draisaitl signing, then you go right on feeling good about it. If you’re worried, I welcome you to watch with me to see what happens in 2017-18. I can’t wait to see what Leon Draisasitl does centering his own line. He turns 22 in October, how high can he fly?