The wait is over. Leon Draisaitl got a new deal yesterday, and it was a big one. His new contract is scheduled to pay him 8.5 million dollars over the next eight years, and there’s a modified NMC/NTC jammed in there.
Joining us to talk about this contract along with yours truly are Corey, Pat, Matt, Shona, and old friend Derek.
Leon's new deal is for eight years with 8.5MM AAV. Is this a good deal for the Edmonton Oilers? Why or why not?
Corey: It's certainly not a steal. They're paying him like the most optimistic projections of him are a sure thing. That being said, having Draisaitl on the team through his prime is something that every Oiler fan should want. Paying young players like they're UFAs seems to be a new trend in the NHL. Chiarelli couldn't get him for a bargain, but at least he didn't trade him because his agent was playing hardball. I have very little faith in his ability to get value for top line talent.
Pat: This is a good deal for the Oilers. Whether he's a center or a winger 77 points in the NHL is going to get you this kind of deal. Pastrnak will get similar and Eichel will get even more than that. it's about what I expected Draisaitl to get and even for people who think it's too much, it's not by much. He was never taking less that 7.5M. The RFA thing seems to be why people are so upset, think of it as a way of paying for value now instead paying for it later. Would you really rather have a bad deal like Toews, Kopitar or Kesler? You shouldn't Draisaitl is a better player than all three and he is paid less.
I've heard about how a bridge deal might be better, but I assure you it isn't. I got some 4th hand information out of a friend who suggested that there was initially discussion regarding one. It fell apart quickly because the only way Draisaitl would have been interested in a 2-year contract is if it were structured in a way to come with a $9M qualifying offer after the deal. There is no situation where that would have resulted in a better situation that this contract.
Matt: Maybe?! And therein lies my whole problem. We don't really know for sure yet, and when you're doling out a cap hit that sits near the top of the league, you'd like to have a bit more certainty - especially when pairing that AAV with max term. Leon has shown well alongside Connor McDavid, because obviously, but his results away from the captain are a bit of a mixed bag. During the regular season, he was significantly less productive away from McDavid than with, and his shot shares suffered some. During the playoffs, Leon caught fire away from McDavid and rode a pretty massive heater to some impressive results. But, for me, it's pretty hard to fully get behind a deal this large on the back of a relatively small sample, and an even smaller one that might suggest he's going to cover this bet. Considering the Oilers should have seen this coming a mile away, they could have taken steps to mitigate the circumstances that lead them to today. If Leon was given a full season to anchor his own line, away from McDavid, the Oilers could have gathered more concrete information about what Leon Draisaitl actually is today, which would either save them money, or make a bet like this less risky. That said, there are worse players to overpay than a 21 year old who finished 8th in scoring last season, McDavid or not. For sure. The Oilers have a couple of them, and depending on what they do with Maroon and Nurse, they could quite easily have a couple more.
Shona: I think it's sort of a chaotic neutral. It could go either way. He could have a fantastic year, primarily driving his own line, and everyone could be thrilled that he's not more expensive or it could go badly and he could underperform and they there are people with pitchforks. However, I really believe that Drai will have a decent year so at the very least this contract won't become the dead weight it could possibly become.
Derek: It's an overpay. An overpay of what, $1.5 - $2 million per? But unlike previous overpays for Eberle and Hopkins, this is an overpay for a guy who may be on the verge of carrying a line on his own. Eberle and Hopkins were never capable of that, nor was that ever projected for them, except by the faithful. It would be fine if this was abnormal for the Oilers, but overpaying is the modus operandi for this team. Good management teams wouldn't carry a $1.3 million cap hit for Benoit Pouliot's buyout; good management teams wouldn't pay Kris Russell $2 million extra per season...oh, already covered Leon's overpay and didn't have to talk about Milan Lucic. Just wait until they give Maroon 4x4.
Jeff: There’s a world where we would like Leon to take $17 and a box of cracker jack to play hockey for the Oilers. This wasn’t going to happen. The Oilers likely could have locked him up for much less last year, and it didn’t happen for whatever reason. So they’re now paying a guy who got hot during the playoffs and turned in a 77 point performance during the regular season. I think the deal will work just fine if Leon can prove that he’s ready for prime time 2C action, though the Oilers are going to have to almost certainly hemorrhage a player before 2018-19 in order for it to work. Is it a ‘good deal’? If Leon finds a home at 2C, it will work just fine.
NEXT ROUNDTABLE QUESTION: What to expect from Leon in 2017-18?