Leon Draisaitl signs for $8.5 million a year for the next eight years. Connor McDavid was also signed to a $12.5 million a year contract starting in 2018/19.
Will this give the Edmonton Oilers cap limit issues?
With just two players on the Oilers earning $21 million towards the salary cap limit of $75 million, it can’t help. Just look at the Chicago Blackhawks, who are in a similar predicament where Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are earning the same $21 million. That has led them to need to unload players to meet the salary cap limitations, and there are still five years left on both contracts.
The Blackhawks are already over the cap limit for this season by $34,795. Next season it may be better depending on player personnel moves when they are projected by capfriendly.com to have an excess of $9,986,538 to spend.
The Oilers will have some respite since McDavid’s huge contract won’t take effect until the 2018/19 season. Draisaitl’s new contract is an 89.1% increase! McDavid’s is not much easier on the Oilers’ pocketbook at a 92.6% increase. It becomes almost impossible to imagine how Peter Chiarelli, the President of Hockey Operations and General Manager will overcome this salary issue.
Now, this says nothing to the argument that McDavid and Draisaitl are worth every penny of the salaries they’re receiving. They are beyond impact players and were vital in the Oilers’ advancement to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs last season.
When you compare the statistics of the team’s total point production of last season at 643 to Draisaitl who had 77 points and McDavid who had 100 points, it becomes clearer. That means their contribution was 27.5% of the team’s total production.
It is interesting that the total salaries of the two star players equal 28% of the team’s payroll. Just .5% difference… quite fascinating.
If the salary cap limit doesn’t rise soon…
NHL teams will need to do some creative financing to come up with a roster which is both competitive and yet under the cap limit. Players are getting better, and when a team has two such players on one team, they will demand and more than likely receive their salary demands.
The burning question, which needs response is – will this overload of payroll demand cause the Oilers to crash and burn?
When one compares the past success of the Blackhawks paying Kane and Toews the $10.5 million contracts the past two seasons, it shows that it wasn’t tied to their success. They DID NOT win the Cup either year. When you go back to their 2009/10 Stanley Cup season, the two Hawks’ only earned $875,000 while still on their entry-level contracts.
The same held true in 2012/13 when they earned $6.3 million, yet they won the Cup that year. They repeated that Cup victory again in 2014/15 while earning the same salary.
So, it seems like the salary cap must be adjusted accordingly, and it more than likely will be. There’s a lot of politics involved in that process with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the middle of that decision. The NHL is also expanding and don’t forget that each owner received a hefty payment ($16.67 million) from the newest franchise coming into the league starting this season.
That kind of money can be used to improve a team’s roster, facilities, among other uses. Of course, there are penalties to teams not following the cap limit. According to Wikipedia, a team could face cap fines of up to $5 million, cancellation of contracts, forfeiture of draft picks, deduction of points and/or forfeiture of game(s) determined to have been affected by the violation of the cap.
Thus, the reason teams like the Blackhawks had to make player deals the past two seasons to get below the cap limit due to Toews and Kane’s exorbitant salaries.
It seems like a crash course or game of chicken to decide if you want to pay a star player or two what they are worth, or allow them to be traded to get some value from them. That same scenario is playing out in the contract negotiations of John Tavares of the New York Islanders. He is said to be expecting at least $10 million a year to renew his contract and stay with the Islanders.
His contract expires in July of 2018, which leaves plenty of time to get it done. Yet, if he is not signed for whatever reason by the trade deadline next year, the team will have no choice but to put his services out to the highest bidder. Players like Toews, Kane, McDavid, Draisaitl, and Tavares are unique talents who shape the intense following of the NHL to all its fans.
Will they be able to give their teams the return on investment that their huge salaries demand?
Let’s see… an excellent test of that theory will be the next two years for the Edmonton Oilers after they shell out $21 million for just two players.
Can just two players carry the team?
They can certainly make a difference, but it is still a team sport where 21 guys must come together in any one season in hopes of raising the Cup.
We’ll see if the $21 million duo of McDavid and Draisaitl can bring the Cup home to Edmonton.
I wouldn’t bet against them.
What is your opinion of yet another star NHL player making a huge salary? Will it prevent or help the Oilers’ success? Give us your take below in the comments section.
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