EDMONTON OILERS: CONTRACTS TOO RICH TO KEEP TEAM TOGETHER | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Around this time next year, we'll be talking about the play of Leon Draisaitl and what he's worth to the Edmonton Oilers. Draisaitl will be an RFA at the end of this season and should he have a big year in 2016-17, will make for some interesting decisions by Oiler management. One year from that point, we may have similar discussions about Jesse Puljujarvi.

Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may be too expensive to keep over the long-haul. Photo By Lisa Gansky

The Big Three

Just one month ago, it seemed clear Edmonton wasn't going to be able to afford the big three — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. With the arrival of Connor McDavid, the drafting of Puljujarvi and the potential emergence of Leon, something would have to give. Hall was shipped to New Jersey for Adam Larsson and the picture became a little clearer. Then Edmonton went and signed Milan Lucic.

This won't be the Oilers in two-three seasons and the juggling is by no means complete. In a salary cap NHL, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to have three $6 million dollar forwards, one $9-$10 million dollar forward (McDavid), a $4 million dollar Benoit Pouliot and three defensemen over $4 million per year, all while keeping your high-end draft choices like Draisaitl and Puljujarvi under long-term contracts. Someone will have to go.

Emerging Players

Added complications are players like Patrick Maroon and Brandon Davidson, who if they continue on the pace they set last year, will be due large raises and will become unaffordable assets.  It's yet to be seen if Davidson's progression toward a legit top-pair defenseman is sustainable or just a one-year anomaly, but if his numbers are repeatable, this is a $5 million dollar defenseman in the NHL. Should Maroon start where his previous season ended off, he'll double his salary easily.

Who on this list is expendable? One of these players will likely go to Las Vegas in the NHL expansion draft, but after that, who do you keep and who do you not?  Do you move Jordan Eberle because right-wingers are easier to come by? It's possible Eberle has a career year playing alongside a healthy McDavid. Do you see what Draisaitl becomes and move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, relying on a strong one-two punch of Leon and Connor?

I'm certain the decision to move Taylor Hall was not an easy one for management. Saving $2 million dollars a season would have cushioned the blow a bit when the time came to negotiate contracts for some of the Oilers entry-level talent. Hindsight always has a way of making something a little easier to swallow. But the signing of Milan Lucic, while vital to the depth at forward, creates the same financial questions that existed a month ago.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.


  1. Move Eberle (RW) because LW are easier to come by... makes sense Kevin Lowe

    1. Error. Has been amended. Funny thing is Kevin Lowe wasn't terrible at salary cap calculations (worst mistake being the Horcoff contract). He made a few poor decisions, one being terrible trade with Chris Pronger and otherwise some poor drafting that saw talent wash out. Lowe was fleeced out of town for it. His successors at GM made the real mistakes. Chiarelli is still being evaluated.


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