The Edmonton Oilers have re-signed all of their free agents except one, and it’s one of their big-name players: Leon Draisaitl.
In the last season of his entry-level contract, Draisaitl impressed with 29 goals and 77 points through 82 games this season, and he was a force to be reckoned with Connor McDavid. The German winger also shined in the postseason, leading all Oilers skaters with six goals and 16 points through 13 playoff games.
Without a doubt, Draisaitl’s breakout year and potential translate to a pay raise. The biggest question, of course, as the offseason continues and the clock ticks, is how much Draisaitl will sign for, and what kind of deal he could see. A solid deal for Draisaitl could be a bridge deal.
Possibility of a Bridge
A bridge deal is essentially a two-year contract given to younger up-and-coming players. It is a shorter-term contract with less annual salary and usually serves as a win-win for the team and player.
For instance, if a team is under salary cap pressure (i.e. Edmonton’s imminent cap dilemma following the 2017-18 campaign), and aren’t completely sure of a player’s worth, they can sign a bridge deal.
This kind of contract not only gives a team more time to analyze and sample a player’s performance and ability but overall benefits the team. The bridge deal doesn’t force a team to overpay a player or commit to a long term, especially if it does not work out.
A contract like this does, however, allow a player to prove their worth, and also helps players work harder and provides an incentive. If a player plays well enough, they can prove their worth and cash in for a pay raise and a long-term deal once their bridge contract is up.
Not to mention, if the two parties cannot agree on a deal, a bridge deal allows the sides to meet in the middle and come back to negotiations at a later time.
In Edmonton’s case, Draisaitl could sign a bridge deal for less of an AAV and have that time to prove his worth and show his consistency. He is only 21 years old and still has ways to go in his NHL career; this was just his second year in the NHL, and though his 2016-17 was impressive and showed plenty of promise, he needs to show that he can continue to put up those numbers.
Overall, a bridge deal may be the right choice moving forward, especially as the season moves closer.