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Nylander Deal Hints Oilers Will Have Serious Salary Cap Problem

The Edmonton Oilers have serious salary cap concerns if the Nylander deal is a hint as to where the Draisaitl and McDavid contracts wind up.

The recent William Nylander deal has sent shockwaves through the NHL. Based on the amount of money and term given to a player, who not just a couple of months ago was probably ballparked to make $1.5 million less per season, other players are salivating. This is particularly problematic for the Edmonton Oilers, who are now faced with the impending negotiation for Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid’s contract extensions.

Nylander’s eight-year, $11.5 million AAV extension has elevated the expectations for both player’s next deals to an unprecedented level. The Oilers must strategically navigate this situation over the next few seasons, especially considering the way player contracts are ballooning, even despite a rising salary cap.

For the Oilers, the issue is that the elite level of these two players likely exceeds any salary cap increase. While contracts are often determined on a percentage of the cap at the time they’re signed, the Oilers have an issue. They have other contracts on the books or that need signing. Those contracts, combined with Draisaitl and McDavid’s deals create issues.

What Will Draisaitl Be Worth on an Extension?

Draisaitl, already a bona fide superstar, is currently on a steal of a deal with an eight-year, $8.5 million AAV contract set to conclude after the upcoming season. As discussions for his extension loom, the prospect of an AAV starting at a minimum of $13 million for a similar duration is real. $12.5 million the best-case scenario. However, industry insiders, including Daniel Bugent-Bowman of The Athletic, speculate that Draisaitl could command even higher figures, possibly reaching $13 million or even $14 million per season.

McDavid Draisailt Edmonton Oilers contract

With an impressive resume that includes three 50-goal seasons, a Hart Trophy, and a scoring title, Draisaitl will have numerous suitors if the Oilers are unwilling to meet his financial demands. Draisaitl is still young, he’s still productive, and he’s still one of the best players in the world. You don’t just let those players leave.

Related: Oilers to Be “Aggressive Buyers” at the NHL Trade Deadline

The Oilers’ financial challenges do not end with Draisaitl.

Soon enough, the focus will shift to Connor McDavid’s impending contract renewal. Projections suggest a potential annual salary between $15-$18 million. This, combined with Draisaitl’s expected substantial contract, complicates the Oilers’ cap situation significantly, making it a tricky juggling act for the team’s management.

The Problems Compound for the Oilers

If you then factor in a new deal for Evan Bouchard — which will likely start around $8 million per season –, the need to lock in Stuart Skinner, and the fill out the roster, the Oilers run out of money rather quickly. Theoretically, they could have around $46-$47 million tied up in four players (McDavid, Draisaitl, Bouchard, Darnell Nurse). If the cap is $95 million at the time, that’s nearly 50% of the entire team budget.

If the Oilers want to keep this core together, all while rightfully keep McDavid the highest-paid player in the NHL, there are limits to what else they can do. The cumulative impact of Draisaitl and McDavid’s contracts could potentially cost the Oilers when it comes to their depth. This means either moving out a contract or cutting corners on the third line, or second pair on defense.

The unpredictability of contract negotiations in the NHL is evident in Nylander’s recent deal. For the Oilers, that unpredictability is problematic. The one thing they know is that two of the best players in the world are about to get extremely expensive. They’ll have to adjust if they plan to keep both.

Next: Insider Has Painful Prediction About Campbell’s Future with Oilers


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