As expected, the Edmonton Oilers have worked out a deal with restricted free agent Ryan McLeod, agreeing to a one-year, $798K contract. It should come as no surprise, given that McLeod was at the facility yesterday to do his medical testing and general manager Ken Holland explained that he would be on the ice today.
McLeod, 23, had little leverage in negotiations as an RFA without arbitration rights, and will end up accepting a deal lower than his qualifying offer. That was always the risk of pushing talks this late into the summer with a team that has very little cap room, but it appears as though McLeod has decided missing training camp or the first part of the season isn’t worth it in this case.
It’s probably a good move in the long run, given the opportunity that McLeod has in front of him. As the most obvious candidate for the third-line center role, he should be able to carve out a place for himself this season and become indispensable to head coach Jay Woodcroft. If he can play solid defense while improving on the nine goals and 21 points his scored as a rookie, there will be plenty of time to work out a more lucrative contract down the road.
By keeping his cap hit low, he can guarantee his spot on the roster as an everyday player and provide some surplus value to a team that has its eye on the Stanley Cup. When more money is available down the road, the young forward (who only turned 23 yesterday), should be able to capitalize.