Alex Plante is a cheaper NHL option for next season.
When I wrote about Chris VandeVelde and Alex Plante rejecting their qualifying offers, I was pretty skeptical about the decision-making process that led them to believe that this was a good idea, especially in the case of VandeVelde who, it seemed to me, might end up not getting a contract at all. But the Oilers signed both players to new deals. At the time, the contract details hadn't yet been released, and I was pretty interested to see what the new contracts looked like. In In the comments section, Bruce suggested the following:
My guess is that the difference between the QO and the actual contract they signed comes down to a few $$$ on the AHL side of the equation.
A very reasonable guess, and I was in full agreement, but as it turns out, that's not what happened.
Plante will earn $65,000 in the AHL, and VandeVelde will earn $62,500. In both cases, that's the exact same wage that they had earned the year before. VandeVelde actually ended up with the exact same salary at the NHL level too. He would have earned $714,000 had he signed his qualifying offer, and that's exactly what he ended up settling on. Plante, on the other hand, took a steep pay cut. He would have earned $826,875 at the NHL level had he signed his qualifying offer, but his new contract will pay him just $625,000.
That makes Plante a slightly more affordable call-up option, which might matter if the Oilers were close to the cap (they're not). As it stands, Plante's agent seems to have failed him here by not being able to get Plante more AHL money in exchange for taking a cut in pay at the NHL level. Presumably that's what he was trying to do before the qualifying offer deadline passed, and when that failed, he decided to gamble that he could get it done after the deadline.