Admitting that it’s a bit too early to “be concerned” over the next deal Connor McDavid is going to get as part of the Edmonton Oilers organization, one scribe took a look at the progression of the superstar center and noted that his production is continuing to climb as he reaches the “peak seasons” of his NHL career. That means great things for the McDavid and the Oilers but also means both sides should prepare for a whopper of a second long-term deal (McDavid’s third with the team) and that in about two or three seasons, the Oilers need to start preparing for that.
Two or three seasons time might be generous. The reality is, the Oilers should be thinking about McDavid’s next contract already. Allan Mitchell of The Athletic took a closer look at what “peak seasons” look like for superstar athletes in the NHL. Understanding that it’s hard to compare any other player to McDavid, Mitchell notes that what McDavid will be projected to do in terms of production will not only leave fans in “shock and awe” but put him among the conversation in terms of all-time great scorers — at least he’ll be trending that way, if he stays healthy.
With that comes the luxury of getting to watch one of the great players in the game, but a responsibility from the Oilers to understand that McDavid is going to be in for a hefty raise.
McDavid will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2025-26 campaign. At that point in his career, we should see him delivering 100 points in an 82-game season, meaning his third NHL contract has the potential to be earth shattering.
In other words, what Mitchell is suggesting is that 100 points for McDavid will be a regular occurrence and that so many seasons with that on his resume and at an age where he’s still trending upward, he’s going to be pricey.
There’s no way to know what exactly that number will look like, so we won’t even fathom a guess at this point.
With NHL revenues likely heading back in the right direction and with salary caps increasing as a result, there won’t be anything holding McDavid back from landing one of the richest contracts in NHL history. It has the potential to be so big, the Oilers might need to start planning ahead.
What Will the Oilers Need to Look For?
First, that they can afford him is hurdle number one they’ll have to jump. It’s not so much that the Oilers wouldn’t pay him whatever amount of money he commands, but Edmonton has to consider what other contracts are on the books and what kind of progression Leon Draisaitl will have over the next few seasons. Draisaitl’s deal will have expired one season prior to McDavid’s and he’s bound to make a whole lot more cheddar than the $8.5 million per season he’s making now.
Second, the Oilers will have need to have landed the equivalent of Jari Kurri to Wayne Gretzky for McDavid. In his seasons with the Oilers to date, McDavid hasn’t had a solid winger that meshes like Kurri did with the Great One. GM Ken Holland will be on the lookout for that player, hoping perhaps that someone like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is that guy. If he isn’t, what will it cost to land a winger for McDavid that will keep the center in Edmonton on another eight-year deal?
Oilers Need to Start Winning
Third, the Oilers need to start winning and soon. The more seasons that roll along where the Oilers fail to make strides in the win column when it matters most, the more likely McDavid is to look around the marketplace to see what contenders will pony up the big money to snag him.
McDavid has said he’d like to retire an Oiler. We don’t doubt the sincerity of that statement, but, he said that at a time when he believed the Oilers might be better than they are to date. With so many years to go before his next deal, McDavid probably hasn’t changed his mind or that there’s any concern he’ll leave. It is fair to argue that the closer it comes to his next contract extension, the more it will be imperative that the Oilers are perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
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