By Bobby Cappuchino (@)
When the Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010 – the first of three they’d win in 6 years – it was in Jonathan Toews’s third year. His first long-term deal was to start the next season. He was still on his entry-level contract. Patrick Kane – the player that scored the Stanley Cup winner 4 minutes into overtime – happened to be in the same situation.
The Blackhawks would win two more Stanley Cups by the time Toews and Kane’s next deals – which, while not as valuable as ELCs, were still bargains of $6.3 million per year.
Much has been made about Chicago’s high picks and their now long-term success. They are probably the only “dynasty” we’ve seen in modern times. But what made them such a great organization was their management of contracts and building around young core players.
The Edmonton Oilers aren’t the Chicago Blackhawks, but they can learn a lesson from them and apply it in a different manner.
With Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall all out of their ELCs and making $6 million per year, they’ve already missed that first window to win a Cup. But because of their consistent failure, they now have a second crop of high picks that they can build around. It’s just that this time, they need to have success fast.
Connor McDavid, who might already be the best player in the NHL, provides an absurd amount of value because he is on an ELC. At the end of 2017-18, it isn’t unreasonable to think that he will begin a new contract that pays him at least $10 million per season, if not way more. Leon Draisatl is another highly-talented forward, but was very poorly managed in 2014-15, costing the Oilers a year of his ELC for no reason. This means he will be in line for a new deal after this upcoming season. It’s possible that he takes a bridge deal in the $3.5-4 million range, which is relatively manageable.
The other piece that will be a big part of this “next core” for the Oilers is who they draft at 4th overall this week. There has been a lot of talk of the Oilers dangling the pick for D help. This, quite frankly, is dumb as shit.
Another high pick is exactly what Edmonton needs, as someone like Matt Tkachuk would provide them with a cost-controlled asset that will provide tremendous value on an ELC – something that the Blackhawks proved is vital to having success. Instead, Edmonton needs to look at moving Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins for that big-minute defenseman (I didn’t include Hall because the Oilers shouldn’t even consider trading him). The kind of d-man Chiarelli is hunting for is going to have a cap hit of at least $5 million – adding that and giving up a prospect that can contribute relatively soon (likely 2017-18) for cheap makes no sense. It’s not intelligent from a cap perspective. And it’ll harm them long-term when they start paying McDavid and Draisatl.
The Oilers trading Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins for a top-three d-man, and drafting a player like Tkachuk or Dubois, who can slide into a top six forward position in the near future, makes the most sense for long-term success.
The proof lies in Chicago.