If you are catching up this week and wanting to look forward to training camp, I just completed a quick two-part training camp sneak preview that first looked at roster battles for the last three forward slots and then followed up with a look at the potential roster battle for the last slot on the blue line.
About a month ago, the Edmonton Oilers re-upped a year early with Connor McDavid signing him to might 8-year contract that will pay him $12.5 million annually. Today the other shoe dropped, so to speak, when Leon Draisaitl was re-signed to an 8-year contract that will pay him $8.5 million annually. In the process, the duo just became the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin of their generation at least contractually, and the process has begun to see if the Oilers can build a Stanley Cup winner around the two cornerstones.
Below are a couple Carolina Hurricanes’ angles on today’s contract announcement
No offer sheet (no surprise)
The deal with Draisaitl officially puts to rest any hope or speculation that the Hurricanes could or should extend an offer sheet to Draisaitl. Despite being a fun offseason discussion point, an offer sheet was never in the cards to begin with per an article on offer sheets all the way back on June 1.
A possible reference point and ceiling for Sebastian Aho’s next contract
Sebastian Aho is still two years away from being a restricted free agent like Draisaitl was this summer; nevertheless, he could serve as a reference point when the time comes. Draisaitl’s 77 points in 2016-17 set a pretty high bar to try to jump over to claim more than his $8.5 million, and just maybe this deal can help establish a next tier in the $6 million range which interesting is exactly where Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner sit right now.
The potential to free up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Rough math shows the Oilers with about $5.5 million of cap space for 2017-18. (That includes Draisaitl’s contract which starts this year.) Adding Connor McDavid’s contract to the mix in 2018-19 has the Oilers starting at about $7 million over a flat cap number. The Oilers do get some relief with Mark Fayne’s contract and Lauri Korpikoski’s buyout cap hit coming off the books for a total of $4.6 million, but with not much else in the way of pricey contracts coming off the books, one has to figure that Nugent-Hopkins could become a salary cap casualty. While it is possible that the Oilers ride out 2017-18 and look to deal next summer, it is also possible that they look to make a deal sooner rather than later to avoid having to deal under pressure next summer.
Illustration of the financial challenges of today’s NHL when players do well
The McDavid/Draisaitl combination is now scheduled to take up 25-28 percent of the salary cap for the Oilers in 2017-18 and illustrates the challenges of success. Obviously, teams want their star players to do well, but it is a double-edged sword financially when it happens.
Coffee Shop regular David Miller wrote a great article for our recent reader week that projected the Hurricanes salary structure out multiple years. The short version is that the Hurricanes could see some challenges of their own, but they are mitigated a bit by the expectation that the Hurricanes salary cap structure will be a bit less top-heavy and therefore have room for more highly paid players.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think Draisaitl’s contract could become a comparable or at least a reference point with regard to Sebastian Aho’s next contract?
2) And would the ultimate sweet spot be Aho scoring enough to help boost the Hurricanes into the playoffs but still significantly less than Draisaitl such that his next contract prices out in a lower tier in the $5-6 million range?
3) With the burgeoning Hurricanes’ prospect pool, has the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ ship sailed, or is he still a player that you would consider adding at the right price?