Of course, many believed it to be an overpay and that the Oilers would find themselves in deep cap trouble in the coming years having their two young centres in Draisaitl and Connor McDavid combining for a whopping $21 million.
The large cap hit ($8.5m) was compared to more proven players like Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov (8 years, $7.8m cap hit) and Nashville’s Ryan Johansen (8 years, $8m cap hit) furthering the argument that the Oilers were more than generous.
The critics came from outsiders and the Oilers fan base themselves, but I believe the Deutschland Dangler is worth every penny.
PAYING FOR POTENTIAL
Leon Draisaitl has seen his point totals increase in every season since becoming an NHL player. His rookie season got off to a poor start putting up only nine points in 37 games on an awful Oilers team that only had two legitimate NHL centres (Boyd Gordon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and Draisaitl’s main linemates were Nail Yakupov and David Perron. He was eventually sent back to junior where he thrived on a Kelowna Rockets team that won the WHL championship and finished second at the Memorial Cup. Draisaitl took home the MVP honours.
The following season Draisaitl began in the AHL before a late October call up resulted in Leon solidifying himself as an NHL player. Draisaitl clicked with Taylor Hall en route to a 51-point season.
Last season, Draisaitl teamed up with Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid to form the highest scoring duo in the NHL. Draisaitl finished the season with 77 points, good enough for eighth in league scoring.
A lot of these large contracts have been awarded to players that have already won a Stanley Cup like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. While those players will be going into their mid-thirties by the time the contracts are complete, Draisaitl will only be 29 with still miles on his tires.
It’s better to pay for potential than reward a player for past accomplishments.
PLAYS HIS BEST WHEN THE GAMES MATTER
Draisaitl is already a Memorial Cup MVP and he was one of the best players on Team Europe in the most recent World Cup, but it was in the 2017 playoffs that we saw what Leon can do. Draisaitl led the Oilers with 16 points in 13 games, most of the damage coming against the Anaheim Ducks, a team which Draisaitl has owned since entering the league.
Many believed Draisaitl’s point totals were inflated because he was playing on Connor McDavid’s wing. Draisaitl ended the playoffs centering his own line flanked by veteran Milan Lucic and rookie Anton Slepyshev. It was during this time that Draisaitl had a monster five-point performance in Game 6 against the Ducks.
The best players come up in big games and Leon has already proven he is a big game player. That’s worth every cent.
AS THE CAP GOES UP, THE DEAL LOOKS BETTER
As the salary cap continues to rise throughout the next eight years, Draisaitl’s cap hit will be the norm for secondary scorers (may be a slight reach, but you get the picture). The term on the deal was the biggest part of the win for the Oilers.
Imagine if Draisaitl had only signed a five-year deal for a slightly lesser cap hit and he keeps his upwards trajectory. Draisaitl would’ve been able to negotiate a much bigger payday, even more than Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million.
Leon Draisaitl is already an elite player in the league at 21 and players like him don’t normally peak until their late twenties when this deal is complete. You have to pay elite players in every league and the Oilers did just that. This isn’t biting a bullet, this is protecting your investment.
The Edmonton Oilers have a duo locked up for the next seasons that can be right on par with Malkin/Crosby and last time I checked those gentlemen have three Stanley Cup rings.
The Oilers will have to deal with the salary cap in the coming seasons, but with Draisaitl and McDavid on their roster, they will consistently be Stanley Cup contenders.
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We discussed the Draisaitl contract on this episode.