Revisiting McDavid’s deal

Two years ago yesterday, one of the best contracts in NHL history was signed.

Connor McDavid put pen to paper on a precedent-setting eight-year, $100,000,000 contract.

Let’s look back at how valuable he is today, and how it changed some recent contract negotiations.

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The Edmonton Oilers and McDavid wasted no time in getting their contract negotiations underway as soon as he was eligible. And four days after he was first able to sign the deal, he did.

McDavid had just come off a season that saw him score 30 goals and 70 assists playing in a full 82-game season.

It was clear that whatever contract he was set to sign would be a big one — and a big one it was.

His annual cap hit of $12.5-million still sits tops in the league and has impacted the way other negotiations have taken place.

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Auston Matthews was the first to feel the impact when he signed a five-year deal that would pay him an annual average salary of $11.634-million.

It was the easiest comparable given the comparisons that followed the two through their early NHL days; but even at that, Matthews took a deal that paid him less, over a shorter amount of time, taking him right to the cusp of unrestricted free agency.

Recent contracts signed by UFA’s John Tavares (seven-years, $11-million/yr) and Artemi Panarin (seven-years, $11.642-million/yr) haven’t touched McDavid’s number.

And truth be told, I don’t think a contract will for a long time.

His contract was a precedent setter. How can a player come to negotiate with a team and ask for as much, or more than McDavid makes without being able to touch his potential or prowess on the ice?

Nielson's Notes: Oilers 5 - Blackhawks 3

There’s no denying that McDavid’s deal is the best in the league.

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In all honesty, he could ask for $15-million, or even $16-million per year and be worth every single last penny.

Players like Matthews, Tavares, and Panarin are all great players in their own right, but none possess the ability to impact the game the way McDavid does.

Nor do any of them put up offensive numbers close to the 116 points Connor did last year.

As time progresses and more large ticket deals get signed by young players coming off entry-level deals, or UFA’s looking to cash in, McDavid’s contract will stand the true test of time as one of the best signed in league history.

Not only that but with a salary cap that’s bound to continue to increase over time, his deal will appear more and more team friendly.

Just think about it — he’s still only 22-years old as he enters the second year of that contract. He’s not even in his prime. He’s not even played the best hockey of his life.

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It’s yet to be seen what he can do in this league, and that’s damn scary for fans, pundits and players around the league.

Like a fine wine, Connor McDavid’s contract will only get better with age.

On Twitter: @zjlaing


Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers NHL 45 16 32 48 18 -1
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 30 70 100 26 27 13 5 4 9 2
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 41 67 108 26 20
2018-19 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 41 75 116 20 3
NHL Totals 287 128 244 372 90 13 5 4 9 2
Inside the Nation: What will Ken Holland do?


  • fisherprice

    It seemed like a discount at the time and it looks even more like one every time another young star signs their next contract. I was one of Chiarelli’s biggest critics, but I always maintained the best moves he ever made were signing Connor and Leon both to 8 years. Looks like the new generation of RFAs have realized they can negotiate themselves into 5 year contracts, really glad this era happened after the Oilers locked these guys up.

  • cityofchampions

    It is because of McDavid’s and Drai’s contracts that we’ll be a contending team in 3 years, once the caps goes up enough, our young prospects mature and we have waited out the Chia bad deals. By then we’ll have two of the best players on value contracts and lots of cap space enabling us to surround them with talent. The next two years will be frustrating as we waste another two years of prime McDrai without being legit cup threats (though playoffs are a possibility), but if management makes the right choices (i.e. don’t sign any more stupid contracts trying to win now), our window will open up after that.

  • Goaltender Interference

    No idea how true it was but wasn’t there a rumour at the time McDavid signed that Chiarelli offered more Connor actually negotiated him DOWN out of concern for salary cap space to sign supporting cast?

    I’ve always wondered how true that was cause I could easily see McDavid doing that. If true, the deal is even that much more of a bargain…

  • Reg Dunlop

    Now, THIS is what we need! The reality of a 25th place roster being ‘upgraded’ with Canuck and Flame cast-offs as well as Euros who have never played on North American sized ice… just when Oiler fans resign themselves to a 30th place finish out comes a “sunny day McDavid is the greatest and his contract is a bargain” article. Just to provide a counter point, camp is 2 months away and Connor is gimping with a full leg cast and the Oil avoid any real updates on his condition other than ‘his training is going according to schedule’. What schedule is that? If the only reason for hiring the turd polisher Tippett is because the Oil know McDavid is going to miss a chunk of the season, a last place finish is probable and a drop from 1st overall selection to 5th in the draft lotto is deserved.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    McJesus and Drai’s deals are a steal right now, McDavid is still accumulating points more and more and he missed games last year, imagine what a full season could be like

  • Ol_OneNut

    Panarin making 11.6MM for the next seven years for a career high 31 goals and 87 points is truly astounding.

    Did the Rangers hire Chiarelli and not announce it?

  • Foximus

    I don’t recall anyone on this site bashing the McDavid deal but tons of people bashed the Drai deal. And now it looks like an absolute bargain for the remainder of the contract. Ever since that playoff run a couple of seasons ago when Drai basically put the team on his back I’ve been a huge fan. McDavid is god but Drai is pretty amazing too.

  • Citizen David

    McKinnon has the best contract in the league. Half of what McDavid makes. No one will ever complain about McDavid’s contract but in terms of value, it’s not a value contract. McDavid’s entry level contract was value. Hall putting up 90 points and winning MVP for 6 million is value. McKinnon is value. McDavid is the best in the game and having him make 12.5 doesn’t hurt the team, but it isn’t great value.

  • SlovakOiler

    I woke up, opened the site like every morning, read the headline and my heart stopped.
    For the love of God, please don’t do that ever again 😛 I really thought they traded Connor 🙁

  • Synthesis

    Pretty early to coronate it a smoking deal. Value will inevitably be determined at its conclusion. It doesn’t feel horribly offside now but theres a lot of variables that his body and mind will have to deal with in the coming 7 campaigns.
    Chances are he will address marriage, kids, ever more friends being shipped out of town and the Edmonton constant; mindless buffoons who cover this team asking idiotic questions, day after day after day. He loves that…. so so much.