ALL conversations involving cap for the Oilers have to start with two major contracts on the horizon. The Connor McDavid deal could be eight year and $97 million—or more. The Leon Draisaitl contract will also hit and impact the 2016-17 season. Whenever we discuss the future, those two deals will have to be factored in. Since we have some time before the next Oilers game, let’s talk about the McDavid deal and the RFAs.
THE MCDAVID DEAL
- The franchise is the one man in hockey today whose age, potential and current established level of ability make him more valuable than rhodium. When the Oilers won the lottery, they also won the right to sign him to at least two contracts. His entry-level deal runs through the end of the 2017-18 season, and his next one has been discussed at length. If the Oilers go long (8 years) I think we could see $97 million as a bargain—and the number could be higher. If the contract length is less than eight seasons, it will be interesting to see the reasoning behind such a move. The current CBA expires in 2022, but there is an opt out for both sides that could conclude the agreement as early as 2020. Source. I doubt Connor McDavid would sign a two-year deal, but the option exists. A four-year deal takes him to the end of the CBA, and we should be prepared for that kind of language as we approach summer and the nature of the negotiations become known. Bottom line: I honestly don’t think $9.7 million times eight is a reasonable number to expect in these negotiations. All other contracts must wait in line for the McDavid deal to be finalized. Note: This may impact Edmonton’s negotiations with players like Kris Russell. Peter Chiarelli cannot afford to be spending money past this coming year until he knows the cost certainty on 97.
LEON AND THE RFA’S
- Leon Draisaitl. With bonuses, Leon can make around $3.4 million this season, and there are some comparables that are in the 6’s if Edmonton wants a long ranger deal. During December, Cam Lewis wrote about the potential deal and there is a very wide range of possibilities. Leon isn’t a pure comp for men like Nathan MacKinnon and Sean Monahan, because he will have five years to go after this one before free agency. I think Edmonton may try to get him under contract on a bridge, say three years, and hopefully get his name on a contract with a number that begins with a five. Suspect he gets $6M times several seasons.
- Zack Kassian. His value contract comes to an end this summer and Kassian should get a nice increase. I would hope we see something around $2 million a year on a two-year deal, your mileage may vary. One thing the Oilers have to do from now on: Get brutal on the contracts awarded to role players.
- Jujhar Khaira. He is not arbitration eligible but is RFA and will get a slight raise. I like him plenty, this is a no-brainer in my opinion. Expansion draft a real concern.
- Iiro Pakarinen. Arbitration eligible after making $725,000 this season. The injury hampers his negotiating position, and his role is going to cost $1 million or less. If the Oilers have plans for Tyler Pitlick (who will be UFA if allowed to go to July 1 without a new deal), then Pakarinen may not return.
- Griffin Reinhart. This is going to be an unusual one. Peter Chiarelli paid a hefty price for Reinhart in the 2015, step one in a very aggressive effort to improve the blue line. GR wasn’t ready in fall 2015 and was sent out early in fall of 2016 from training camp, complete with a frank conversation about expectations. I ranked Reinhart No. 13 in the Winter Top 20 based on what (at that time) was a shocking lack of progress. However, he has played quite well since recovering from a back issue mid-season and there may be a window of opportunity. Reinhart is a Chiarelli-type defenseman, my guess is the Oilers sign him and try to find a way to get him through expansion.
- Anton Lander. Made $987,500 this season (or equivalent based on NHL days) and is arbitration eligible. I think he has NHL talent and should be able to help a team. I do not believe Lander is valued enough by the organization, and it probably isn’t in his best interests to return for another year. Even with a one-way deal offered, seems to me the Swedish center needs a second opinion. Note: All of this could change by the end of the playoffs, as important things occur in big moments.
- Joey Laleggia. His move to wing and offensive surge since doing so probably means another contract for the undersized player. Laleggia is a talented player with the puck on his stick and a one-year extension on a two-way deal seems reasonable to me. Has arb. rights.
- Dillon Simpson. There must be a train of thought in the Chiarelli War Room that culling the Leftorium is job one. Yet, if you have a good hockey player why dump him for that reason alone? He is probably the fourth callup on the list currently but he appears to be a capable defenseman.
- David Musil. I have been thinking about this for a little while. If I am David Musil’s agent, I would ask for outright release right after the AHL season ended. I would then approach Vegas in search of an opportunity. Backup plan is Europe. Look, it’s nobody’s fault, but Musil is a left-handed defenseman with a defensive resume and the Oilers have them in droves. He might be able to help Vegas, certainly an intelligent player without the puck.
- Zach Pochiro. He came over in the Nail Yakupov deal (50-man needed a match) and has played pretty well considering he was basically a spot carrier. I don’t think there is a long-term plan.
- Henrik Samuelsson. Acquired last month, he hasn’t played much (5, 0-0-0) in Bakersfield and may end up having a short career as an Oilers prospect. They must have liked something about him though, so don’t discount the idea of a new contract.
- Jere Sallinen. It does not appear likely he will return. Sallinen had a fine two-way reputation, but when you can’t deliver offense in the AHL at age 26, that is a tell.
- Eetu Laurikainen. He appears to be gone already, haven’t seen a thing about him for months.
- Bogdan Yakimov. I can’t imagine the organization would trust him to stay in California for six days, let alone six months. Suspect he is a Hartikainen walking.
My guess? Anton Lander, David Musil, Zach Pochiro, Jere Sallinen, Eetu Laurikainen, Bogdan Yakimov.
LAST YEAR, SAME TIME
In March of 2016, I had a lash at the future and here is what it looked look in regard to RFA’s at that time:
- R Zack Kassian: A lock to be signed at this point. (signed)
- R Iiro Pakarinen: McLellan seems to like him, that can be the difference for the fringe players. (signed)
- L Luke Gazdic: I think he will be in a new town come the fall. (gone)
- D Adam Clendening: Classic tweener, he won’t be back. (gone)
- D Jordan Oesterle: His audition went well, he should return. (signed)
- D David Musil: No recall may be telling. (signed)
- R Tyler Pitlick: Looks good when healthy, but can they count on him? (signed)
- G Niklas Lundstrom: Will not return. (gone)
- L Kale Kessy: Too close to call, he is not close to pushing for NHL employment. (gone)