The Ryan Martindale signing was a long time in coming. Martindale went all of training camp without a contract, and was sent to Oklahoma City without a contract. The Oilers finally announced that they had come to terms with Martindale on Saturday, the day before the Barons opened their season. No doubt one of the reasons for the wait was the Oilers' contract situation - they were sitting at 48 or 49 contracts for most of training camp - but that was only the case after other picks from the 2010 draft (Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, and Martin Marincin) were signed earlier in the offseason. With Martindale having already played four seasons in the OHL, and being quite dominant in his last year, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would eventually sign, so why did it take so long? One of the possibilities is contract. Was Martindale's camp playing hardball? Were the Oilers? I'll take a closer look after the jump.
In order to have a basis for comparison, we'll need to agree on some reasonable comparables, and in this case, I think draft number should do the trick, especially since most would agree that Martindale's performance post-draft has been at least passable, and that he wasn't a reach on draft day. The chart below details the contract terms (thanks Capgeek!) for all of the players drafted 51st to 71st overall in either 2009 or 2010 (including The Radko Gudas!). I've organized the chart prioritizing guaranteed money (signing bonus and minor league salary):
Looking over this list, Martindale has a similar amount of guaranteed money to most of the "standard" contracts, with the maximum minor league salary and maximum signing bonus money. His NHL base salary is also very similar to others, but he sticks out like a sore thumb for being one of just three players with no performance bonuses, and his cap hit is the second lowest in the group. As such, it seems to me that the Oilers may have been playing a little bit of hardball, knowing that Martindale probably preferred to go straight to the AHL rather than spend another year (not getting paid) in junior.
But the lower cap hit might end up working out well for Martindale too. After all, he's now a cheaper call-up option against the cap (and just plain old cheaper too) than most of the players in Oklahoma City. As the big club (hopefully) improves that might actually put him in a better situation than the other forwards that the Oilers selected in the middle rounds of the last several drafts.