The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 on Wednesday night; now comes the post-season autopsies and plans for the coming summer.
The face of the franchise and perhaps the league, Connor McDavid is eligible to sign an extension on July 1. Pending-RFA Leon Draisaitl lead the Oilers in playoff scoring after finishing eighth in the NHL during the regular season. Those two players will go from entry-level contracts to somewhere between $16-20MM by next summer.
The upcoming McDavid contract has already been the subject of much digital ink. Now, Draisaitl’s breakout season has lead to questions about what he’s worth. At the beginning of the year, the debate was bridge-deal or long-term. After a 77-point campaign, it’s clear that the Oilers will be looking long-term with their young star. Over at Sportsnet, Jonathan Willis explored previous contracts for comparable stars. Based on contracts signed by players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Anze Kopitar, and Johnny Gaudreau, Willis writes that Draisaitl’s new contract ought to be in the $6 to $6.5MM range. However, because of Draisaitl’s 37-game rookie season and the influence of McDavid, Willis notes that both sides have leverage.
Other free agents include Kris Russell, Zack Kassian, and Matt Hendricks. Hendricks will certainly be off the books, clearing close to $2MM. Russell will be interesting, as he’s the only member of the regular top-six who’s not under contract next season. If the Oilers want to improve their blue line, then Russell’s spot is the clear choice to upgrade.
- On Thursday morning, the Oilers announced that Draisaitl will join Germany at the IIHF World Championships in Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany. The native of Cologne ought to help Germany’s chances, as the team has just one regulation win in four games so far. It’s been a busy season for Draisaitl, who has played 104 games since mid-August beginning with the Olympic Qualifiers, the World Cup of Hockey, all 82 NHL regular season games, and then 13 NHL playoff games.
- Eberle’s poor regular season and playoffs may mean he’s on the way out. He didn’t score a single goal during the playoffs, and was even outscored by Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne by a score of three assists to two. As Sportsnet’s Luke Fox puts it, “You’re selling low on Jordan Eberle, but you’re still selling, right?” Provided the Oilers can find more scoring depth on the right wing, then expect Eberle to be on his way out. Fox suggests Carolina, New Jersey, and Vegas as possible trade partners.
- Left-winger Benoit Pouliot also struggled mightily this season, with just 14 points in the regular season and none in the playoffs. He also comes at a $4MM price tag, which makes any trade unlikely. He’ll be exposed to Vegas, with perhaps a prospect or pick offered as a sweetner. Failing that, a buyout could be the next option. It was a bad year, but Pouliot has previously scored a solid rate while being an aggressive forechecker and good penalty-killer. His penchant for bad penalties got him in coach Todd McLellan’s doghouse and he couldn’t play his way out.