Edmonton Oilers: Will Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s new contract drive the Edmonton Oilers into mediocrity?

Stats suggest Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s new contract, can potentially jeopardize the Edmonton Oilers potential to win a Stanley Cup.

Recently, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports, Edmonton Oilers superstar center, Connor McDavid is close to signing a massive contract extension.

It is believed to be eight years, at $106 million, with an average annual cap hit of $13.25 million. This deal would make Connor McDavid the highest paid player in the salary-cap era.

Obviously, a contract of this magnitude will garner plenty of opinions. Some people strongly believe that the massive cap hit will handicap the Edmonton Oilers for the foreseeable future, and drive them into mediocrity.

Meanwhile, others might believe that this is a necessary price to pay to lock up one of the best players in the world for eight more years. In that, if they have McDavid on the team, they will always have a chance to win a championship.

With these contrasting ideas, we can argue all day as to who is right, but right now it is simply too early to make a conclusion.

Aside from the argument, after doing some research on the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks, I found an interesting stat that suggests McDavid’s new cap hit can potentially jeopardize the Oiler’s hope of winning a Stanley Cup for the next five years.

Without further ado, let’s see why!

Why McDavid and Draisaitl’s new contract could hurt the Edmonton Oilers championship aspirations

Let’s assume that the Oilers do agree to pay McDavid, $13.25 million for eight years. After that, the next step for the Edmonton Oilers would be to extend Leon Draisaitl. According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, it was reported that Draisaitl was allegedly asking for about nine million per season.

At that price, with the salary cap at $75 million during the 2018-2019 season, McDavid and Draisaitl could potentially take up 29.67% of the Edmonton Oilers cap hit.

Statistically, what does this mean?

Simply put, the Edmonton Oilers might be handcuffed by these huge salaries, and won’t be able to win a Stanley Cup in the next five years.  As history has shown, the salary cap percentage occupied by star players can serve as a strong Stanley Cup indicator for contending teams in the NHL.

Analyzing Crosby and Malkin’s cap hit:

Salary Cap
% of Cap
Playoff Result
$8.7 Million
$56.7 Million
Won Stanley Cup
2009-2010$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$56.8 Million
Lost in Round 2
2010-2011$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$59.4 Million
Lost in Round 1
2011-2012$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$64.3 Million
Lost in Round 1
2012-2013$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$70.0 Million
Lost in Round 3
2013-2014$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$64.3 Million
Lost in Round 2
2014-2015$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$69.0 Million
Lost in Round 1
2015-2016$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$71.4 Million
Won Stanley Cup
2016-2017$8.7 Million$8.7 Million$73.0 Million
Won Stanley Cup

*table was built based on data taken from www.spotrac.com

If we take a look at Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby’s salary cap figures, in the table above, the stats show us a few very interesting ideas.

For one, during the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup, Crosby and Malkin only took up around 17% of the team’s cap space. At that time, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang were still on their entry level deals.

Essentially, this allowed Pittsburgh the flexibility to keep several key players in their lineup, including Chris Kunitz, Sergei Gonchar, Marc-Andre Fleury, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko, who all played a huge part in their Stanley Cup win.

After 2008-2009, Malkin and Crosby got a massive raise for their second contracts, at $8.7 million per season. Their cumulative cap hit took up 25% of their team’s salary, for five of the next six seasons.

Interestingly enough, the Pittsburgh Penguins only made it out of the second round once in the next six years, and never won a Stanley Cup. Is this a coincidence?

It wasn’t until 2016 when the salary cap was bumped up to $71.4 million dollars, that the Penguins won another Stanley Cup.  In a lot of ways, the cap bump gave the Penguins the big break they needed, to acquire a third superstar in Phil Kessel. He put them over the top, and was key in helping them win back-to-back championships.

Overall, it seemed like Crosby and Malkin learned from the experience of taking too much money in their bridge deals, and decided to take relatively cheaper deals with their third contracts. As they knew, it would be too difficult for management to surround them with a Stanley Cup winning roster.

Analyzing Kane and Toews’ cap hit:

SeasonKaneToewsSalary Cap% of CapPlayoff Result
2008-2009$875K$850K$56.7 Million3.04%
2009-2010$875K$850K$56.8 Million3.04%
Won Stanley Cup
2010-2011$6.3 Million$6.3 Million$59.4 Million21.21%
2011-2012$6.3 Million$6.3 Million$64.3 Million19.60%
2012-2013$6.3 Million$6.3 Million$70.0 Million18.00%Won Stanley Cup
2013-2014$6.3 Million$6.3 Million$64.3 Million19.60%
2014-2015$6.3 Million$6.3 Million$69.0 Million18.26%
Won Stanley Cup
2015-2016$10.5 Million$10.5 Million$71.4 Million29.41%
2016-2017$10.5 Million$10.5 Million$73.0 Million28.77%

*table was built based on data taken from www.spotrac.com

Additionally, statistics also show us how the Chicago Blackhawks success over the years is highly correlated to the relatively cap friendly contracts of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

In the table above, we can see that during their 2010 Stanley Cup win, Kane and Toews were still on their entry-level deals, taking up only 3.04% of their team’s salary cap!

This gave the Blackhawks the opportunity to put together one of deepest Stanley Cup winning rosters of all time. Including players such as Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell to name a few.

Fast forward, to the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup seasons. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were both only $6.3 million cap hits, taking up around 18% of the Blackhawks cap space. In that case, they were able to keep maintain a core that still included Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Nick Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford.

As you can see, in all three championship years (2010, 2013, 2015), Kane and Toews’ cumulative cap hit, never exceeded 19% of their team’s total salary!

McDavid and Draisaitl’s projected cap hit:

SeasonMcDavidDraisaitlSalary Cap% of CapPlayoff Result
2018-2019$13.25 Million$9 Million$75 Million29.67%???
2019-2020$13.25 Million$9 Million$77.5 Million28.71%???
2020-2021$13.25 Million$9 Million$80.1 Million27.78%???
2021-2022$13.25 Million$9 Million$82.7 Million26.88%???
2022-2023$13.25 Million$9 Million$85.5 Million26.01%???
2023-2024$13.25 Million$9 Million$88.4 Million25.17%???
2024-2025$13.25 Million$9 Million$91.34 Million24.35%???
2024-2025$13.25 Million$9 Million$94.4 Million23.56%???

Forecasted salary cap figures were generated based on the prorated average (3.31%) of the league’s annual salary cap from 2008 – 2017.

According to the table above, McDavid and Draisaitl takes could potentially take up more than 26% of the Edmonton Oilers total cap hit for the first five years of their new contracts.

Now, if you compare those numbers to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks above, neither team has ever won a Stanley Cup when their two-star players’ cap exceeds more than 26%.

Note, the generated salary cap, based on a growth rate of 3.31% is a very generous estimate. It is unlikely that the Salary Cap will increase at this rate annually. Therefore, McDavid and Draisaitl’s future cap hit may be much higher than the projected figures above.


As you can see, based on these statistics, the Edmonton Oilers best chance to win the Stanley Cup might be next season (2017-2018), where McDavid is still on his entry-level deal.

After that, they may be facing very difficult cap issues, and may not win a Stanley Cup for the next five years.

On the flip side, statistics are 100% bulletproof, so the Oilers can still deny the odds and be a Stanley Cup anomaly in the near future.

Do you think cap hit is a strong Stanley Cup indicator? Do you agree with this analysis? Let us know in the comment section below.

  1. Assuming, that the Oilers pay McDavid and Draisaitl the projected amounts listed above. How many Stanley cups do you think they can win in the next 8 years?

    1. 0
    2. 1
    3. 2 or more
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