Friday, June 9, 2017

Edmonton Oilers 15 Best/Worst Contracts of Salary Cap Era

*UPDATED: JUNE 2018*


It was a challenge finding the 15 best non-entry level contracts for the Edmonton Oilers under the salary cap. The Nugent-H and Draisaitl contracts are hardly bargains, but they made the list because they are good players. There just were not many bargain contracts to choose from. The worst contracts list on the other hand, was very easy to build. 

BEST

1- Connor McDavid, July 5 2017, 8 years $100M: Signe by Peter Chiarelli. Sure, I have ranked this as the Oilers best contract before it has even started, but there’s a very high probability he will be among the NHL’s best players for the duration of this contract.

2- Taylor Hall, Aug 22 2012, 7 years $42M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. The Hall contract might have been expensive on the “front 9” but has become a huge bargain on the “back 9”. He’s a dynamic offensive player with great speed and physicality. In year five he exploded with 93 PTS and won the Hart Trophy.

3- Chris Pronger, Aug 3 2005, 5 years $31.2M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. This is a great “what if” question for Oilers fans, what if Chris Pronger had played out the remaining term on his contract in Edmonton? There would have been more playoff appearances than what they got, that’s for sure. There are some conspiracy theories out there about Pronger’s demand to leave the city. Pronger won a Cup in Anaheim on this contract.

4- Shawn Horcoff, Aug 19, 2005, 1 year $1M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. The Oilers managed to get Horcoff’s career year of 73 PTS for a great price at age 26. His price will continue to go up while his production continues to go down.

5- Ales Hemsky, Aug 15 2005, 1 year $900K: Signed by Kevin Lowe. Edmonton managed to get the best season of Hemsky’s career for under $1M at age 21. He scored 77 PTS in 81 GP.

6- Cam Talbot, Jan 17 2016, 3 years $12.5M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. Talbot played a key role getting the Oilers to a playoff spot and past the 1st round. What they are getting for what they are paying is a bargain.

7- Jarret Stoll, July 21 2006, 2 years $4.4M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. In 132 GP he scored 75 PTS averaging 18 minutes per game of ice time.

8- Shawn Horcoff, July 14 2006, 3 years $10.8M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. In 213 GP they got 154 PTS. He averaged 50 PTS per season during this contract, then signed an even bigger contract and never got close to 50 PTS again.

9- Ryan Smyth, Sept 14 2005, 2 years $7M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. They got 146 GP, 134 PTS, and a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in this contract. It was a much lower cap then, but Smyth’s performance would have still been a bargain accounting for inflation.

10- Sam Gagner, Aug 29, 2010, 2 years $4.5M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. 143 GP, 89 PTS. His production flatlines at around 40 PTS for several years, but his salary keeps going up. At this moment, the price was right.

11- Oscar Klefbom, Sept 19 2015, 7 years $29.2M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. The future hasn’t exactly been decided for this one, but it looks like he’s going to be a good defenseman. He had a strong season in year one but had a regression in year two (21 PTS in 66 GP). The jury is still out.

12- Jarret Stoll, July 21 2006, 2 years $4.4M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. Who knows what he was on back then, but 132 GP, 75 PTS, 1178 face-off wins (55.3% W %), who plays both power play and penalty kill, is priced nice at $4.4M.

13- Ryan Nugent-H, Sep 19 2013, 6 years $36M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. It’s worth pointing out that this is the only MacTavish contract in the best 15, but he did sign his name to a few on the worst list. Hopkins is good, but not a bargain. He’s scored 181 PTS in 275 GP so far and plays about 19 minutes per game.

14- Leon Draisaitl, Aug 3, 2017, 8 years $68M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. It may still be early to judge the success of this contract. The kid scored 70 PTS in year one and has a bright future. I’m sure if the Oilers decided to trade this contract, they could get a really good return, though it’s unlikely he’s on the market.

15- Gilbert Brule, Aug 12 2009, 1 year $800K: Signed by Steve Tambellini. That’s a decent price for 65 GP and 37 PTS. The good contracts for the Oilers are a bit light. Their worst contracts list was way easier.

WORST

1- Sheldon Souray, July 12 2007, 5 years $27M: Signed by Kevin Lowe, bought out June 23 2011 by Steve Tambellini. He had one good season in an Oilers jersey with 23 G and 53 PTS. He eventually ended up in the AHL before being bought out.

2- Shawn Horcoff, July 17 2008, 6 years $33M: Signed by Kevin Lowe, traded away by Craig MacTavish. His point production declined significantly in the years following this signing, eventually getting shipped out of town for Phillip Larsen and a 7th round pick.

3- Milan Lucic, July 1 2016, 7 years $42M: Signed by Peter Chiarelli. He was brought in as a guy who could score PTS playing with McDavid and protect him out on the ice. Milan scored 50 PTS in year one, 34 PTS in year two. Now he’s 30 years old with 5 years left on an expensive contract.

4- Nikolai Khabibulin, July 1 2009, 4 years $15M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. Does this belong on the worst contracts list? Khabibulin was instrumental in the Oilers being a terrible hockey team and securing 3 consecutive 1st overall picks in the draft. In that regard, he did return value to the Oilers. He also back-stopped the team to zero playoff games.

5- Mark Fayne, July 1st 2014, 4 years $14.5M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. In the 3rd year of this contract Fayne put up decent numbers for the Bakersfield Condors, only playing 4 games for the Oilers.

6- Benoit Pouliot, July 1st 2014, 5 years $20M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. In the 3rd year of this contract he produced just 14 PTS in 67 GP and had a big ZERO PTS in 13 playoff games before being bought out.

7- Nikita Nikitin, June 26 2014, 2 years $9M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. They got just 53 NHL games, and an overpriced defenseman for their farm team. Although he is NOT the most expensive defenseman in Oilers farm team history.

8- Andrew Ference, July 5 2013, 4 years $13M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. The Oilers did not get what they thought they paid for. He had one bad season before running into injury problems, preventing the team from buying him out.

9- Nail Yakupov, Apr 13 2015, 2 years $5M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. He played 100 games and scored just 32 PTS while being traded to St. Louis. He’s probably the worst 1st overall pick since Patrick Stefan.

10- Cam Barker, July 1st 2011, 1 year $2.2M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. I’m not sure what the Oilers thought they were getting at that price point. Cam Barker still sucked in 2010/11. There was plenty of warning this was coming.

11- Gilbert Brule, July 27 2010, 2 years $3.7M: Signed by Steve Tambellini. He had a decent season and Edmonton rewarded him with too much money and his value status flipped from good to bad.

12- Ladislav Smid, Apr 1 2013, 4 years $14M: Steve Tambellini. Smid played 126 games, scoring 9 PTS, averaging 16 minutes of ice time over this contract. A back injury did contribute to his decline and kept him out for all of year four. Edmonton was able to trade him to Calgary for a future back-up goalie.

13- Dustin Penner, Aug 2 2007, 5 years $21.3M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. Nobody is happier to see Penner on this list than Brian Burke, who was furious that Lowe poached his restricted free agent. He was very inconsistent in an Oilers jersey, but did manage to put up a 32 goal, 63 point season. The Oilers were able to flip him for good value as a rental at the end of this contract, getting 1st and 3rd round picks, one of which became Oscar Klefbom.

14- Steve Staios, Nov 21 2006, 4 years $10.8M: Signed by Kevin Lowe. He was 34 years old in year one of this contract and giving 4 years to a journeyman defenseman at that age is a huge risk. Staios declined each season under this contract. The Oilers were able to unload him on Calgary for a 3rd round pick before it expired.

15- Ben Scrivens, Mar 3 2014, 2 years $4.6M: Signed by Craig MacTavish. The Oilers traded a 3rd round pick to LA to get this goalie, then signed him to an extension 2 months later. He had been great in 19 GP for the Kings (1.97 GAA and .931 SV%). Year one of this contract was mostly awful (3.16 GAA and .890 SV%). In December of year two they dumped him on Montreal for Zack Kassian (who still had not played for the Habs after his DUI).

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