Edmonton Oilers, Leon Draisaitl to begin contract extension talks at end of season

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
5 months ago
One of the largest looming stories over the Edmonton Oilers, even amid a franchise record-setting winning streak, is the future contracts of superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
While McDavid, who is in the sixth year of an eight-year, $12.5-million deal, isn’t eligible to take contract extensions until the conclusion of next season, that’s not the case for Draisaitl.
That’s because Draisaitl is in the seventh year of an eight-year deal of his own, paying him $ 8.5 million. So, starting July 1st of this calendar year, he and the Oilers can open up contract negotiations, and that’s exactly what the organization is planning on doing.
“Once the end of the season rolls around, we’ll talk to Leon and his agents to see what they’re thinking,” Oilers CEO Jeff Jackson told The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman in a wide-ranging Q&A. “That’s the plan. We haven’t started to do any of that at this point. We’re focused on what’s happening now and don’t want it to be any sort of distraction at all.”
That’s similar to the focus of Draisaitl himself, who opened up in a Sportsnet interview with Mark Spector, saying his focus is on this season.
“There’s a lot of thought, a lot of conversation that goes into it. With family. With my agents, of course,” said Draisaitl. “Right now, I think everyone just wants me to focus on playing.
“I know the situation come July 1. But there’s another side to it as well. You know, the Oilers have a say in this as well. Come July 1, at least. After that, it’s up to me.”
The reaction was somewhat tepid to Draisaitl inking the deal that he did back in August 2017. The 2014 3rd overall pick was coming out of his entry-level contract, having put up modest numbers to that point with 50 goals and 137 points in his first 191 games. His rookie season saw him score nine points in 37 games before returning to the WHL, then he racked up a stellar 19 goals and 51 points in 72 games his second campaign.
From the Oilersnation archives:
But in 2016-17, he took a big step forward with 29 goals and 77 points in 82 games, following suit with an additional six goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games.
When his deal kicked in for the 2017-18 season, the league salary cap was just $75-million, meaning Draisaitl deal ate up 11.33 percent of the team’s salary cap space. The issue was that there just weren’t that many comparables.
Utilizing CapFriendly’s contract comparables tool, there were only two contracts signed prior that had over a 70 percent similarity score: Ryan Johansen’s eight-year, $8-million AAV deal signed with the Nashville Predators in July 2017 (72.5 percent similarity score), and Evgeny Kuznetsov’s eight-year, $7.8-million deal (78.3 percent similarity score).
Draisaitl, however, has more than lived up to his end of the bargin on his deal. In fact, there’s only one player who has put up more regular season points than Draisaitl’s 664 since signing that deal: his teammate Connor McDavid.
And while Draisaitl’s only played 36 playoff games with the Oilers on his contract, he’s still one of 16 players to put up at least 61 points during the past six seasons; his 1.69 points per game are second to only McDavid.
Couple that with an Art Ross Trophy, a Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson award, and you’ve got all the makings of an NHL superstar.
So much so that a plethora of teams have tried to replicate the Draisaitl contract. Looking back at the similarity scores from CapFriendly, there have been 11 contracts signed since Draisaitl’s with a 70 percent similarity score or greater:
What’s clear is that Draisaitl, much like McDavid, is invaluable to this team, and there’s little doubt in my mind both are blank-cheque players, should they choose to remain in Edmonton.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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