Daily Faceoff has ranked the Edmonton Oilers last in salary cap efficiency. This comes as no surprise after the website began its annual salary cap rankings list and after a deep dive into the numbers determined that there isn’t a team in a worse situation financially than the Oilers. It isn’t a shock given the Oilers current salary cap woes. The team finds itself with just 21 players on the roster and only $382,499 in cap space. Though finishing dead last on the list is new, Edmonton ranked second last in last year’s version of the list.
Daily Faceoff’s ranking system looks at no-move clauses, dead cap space, the quality of long-term contracts, bargain contracts, and the good deals versus the bad ones. Unfortunately, based on those criteria, it is easy to see why the Oilers find themselves at the bottom of that list. Edmonton has several problematic contracts on their books, and while they have some bargains like Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The bad deals outweigh the great ones.
Darnell Nurse is a really good defenseman; he eats a ton of minutes for the Oilers and plays a lot of tough situations. However, he does suffer a lot of mental lapses, and at $9.25 million a season, he just doesn’t bring the offensive upside you would like to see in a defenseman making that kind of money. Nurse is also likely to wear down as the miles pile up on his body. Those difficult minutes require that he play with a ton of physicality. It could take its toll on the 28-year-old when he gets on the wrong side of 30.
Some of the other bad contracts on the Oilers are goaltender Jack Campbell at $5MM per season as well as third-line winger Warren Foegele and third-pairing defenceman Brett Kulak at $2.75 million each. The contracts come in addition to the nearly $2MM per year the Oilers are still paying on the James Neal buyout.
On the surface, these contracts don’t look like outrageous overpayments because all the players listed above are still functional NHLers. However, in the flat cap era Campbell, Foegele, and Kulak are all replacement-level NHLers who could have been replaced by other players on contracts of less than $1MM per season. Couple that with the mishandling of Nurse’s previous bridge deals and it all amounts to around $10MM in inefficient salary cap spending that could lead to big problems for the Oilers down the road when they need to offer extensions to McDavid, Draisaitl, and Evan Bouchard.