Edmonton Oilers: Evaluating the Salary Cap Situation

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 9: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 9: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Edmonton Oilers ensured the future of their organization this offseason by signing two of their biggest players to long-term deals.

Edmonton re-signed Connor McDavid to an eight-year, $100 million deal to kick off the summer, making him the highest paid player in NHL history. And, on Wednesday, the Oilers locked up Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year, $68 million contract extension.

With both of these players locked up long-term, Edmonton has ensured their core moving forward and can now focus on rising as top Cup contenders. However, some are concerned about the Oilers’ cap troubles, especially with a plethora of free agents to re-sign next season, as well as the fact that Edmonton will be paying $21 million combined for two players.

Talking Salary

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers /

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers /

Edmonton Oilers

Looking at Draisaitl, the German winger finished eighth in scoring last season, posting 29 goals and 77 points. He was also a huge part of McDavid’s points and was a force to be reckoned with on the top line. In addition, his six goals and 16 points in the playoffs helped the Oilers get as far as they did, all the way to game seven of the second round.

While it was only his third NHL season and just the first one in which he proved his worth, he is not getting overpaid. For Draisaitl, $8.5 million is warranted for his upside and consistency, and given his growth, as well as his impact on McDavid and the rest of his team, he is not getting underpaid, either.

Well-Deserved Pay Days

Combined, McDavid and Draisaitl led the NHL as the league’s deadliest duo, with 177 points through 82 games. They also helped lead the Oilers to new heights and were a huge reason that Edmonton had a successful season and became top Pacific Division contenders.

While McDavid’s contract set the bar and probably added incentive for Draisaitl to raise his asking price, Edmonton is wise to invest this much in two players who greatly impact not only the franchise but each other. Therefore, they are making the money they deserve as the new rave starts in Edmonton.

How This Affects the Cap

Sooner rather than later, the Oilers will likely run into some cap trouble. They happen to have a lengthy list of players to re-sign next season, including restricted and unrestricted free agents. In addition to the big names like Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu and Darnell Nurse, the Oilers also have to address their young restricted free agents. Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula, Matthew Benning, Anton Slepyshev and Laurent Brossoit.

Coming into this season, the Oilers have about $8 million remaining in cap space, and may add one or two more free agents on a PTO when training camp comes around. Plus, they have to pay bonuses. At the end of this year, there will be a lot to deal with. McDavid’s contract will take effect the following year, and that is when the Oilers will be in some cap trouble.

Evaluating the Future Cap Solutions

First off, the cap is bound to go up sooner rathelatern alter, which will eventually add relief. However, before that happens, the Oilers have to address the pieces on their roster. Realistically, they will not be able to hold onto every piece.

Next year, Mark Fayne will become an unrestricted free agent, and unless he has a remarkable rebound campaign and becomes a puck-moving power-play quarterback, he will walk. That will take $3 million off the books, and the Oilers will enter the offseason with $11 million. Jussi Jokinen may also have to go, which frees up $12.1 million. Still, that isn’t enough to re-sign all of their pieces and afford to take on McDavid’s contract, but it does indicate progress and less space for them to have to clear up.

Bottom Line

With that being said, not only will the Oilers have to let some of their free agents walk, including a number of their AHLers (which is fine, due to the fact they have a surplus of players in Bakersfield), they may have to make a few moves to clear up space. And unfortunately, it may be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his $6 million AAV that has to come off the books in order for the Oilers to survive.

Thankfully for Edmonton, they have two players that they can build a championship team around, and their main pieces aren’t the most expensive. Therefore, they should be able to hold onto players like Maroon and Caggiula and still have depth without paying too much and being unable to afford a deep team.

Next: Edmonton Oilers May Not Be Done in Free Agency Yet

With players like Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto trending in the right direction, the Oilers will be equipped to fill the voids of their roster with players already in the system, given they can’t afford to bring free agents on board. As long as they have Draisaitl and McDavid locked up, the Oilers can build around them. And that is what makes them a winning team.