Leon Draisaitl Signs 8-Year Contract With Oilers

After some delay, the Edmonton Oilers have another top forward back with the team as they signed Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year extension worth an average salary of $8.5 million per year.

The 21-year old native of Cologne, Germany recently completed his third National Hockey League (NHL) season. After his rookie season struggles in 2014-15, he was sent down to the Kelowna Rockets where he completely dominated the WHL. He returned during the 2015-16 season and never looked back.

In 2016-17, he finished second in team scoring behind only Connor McDavid and became the second-highest priority signing for the Oilers over a summer that also saw McDavid signed to a long-term extension.

Draisaitl’s Deal

There was speculation that the breakout center/winger might have been asking for as much as $10 million per season. After finishing the regular season eighth in NHL scoring with 77 points in 82 games, then following that up with 16 points in 13 playoff games, many wouldn’t have been surprised if the numbers were close. Instead, the Oilers get a No. 1 center on most NHL teams at a number that is high, but also manageable.

Edmonton also manages to avoid the scare of an offer sheet. The offer sheet technique is not one which is often used in today’s NHL, and the Oilers had already publicly addressed any rumors they wouldn’t match an offer sheet, but if one was to be thrown out there, Draisaitl was often the player on the receiving end of it. In the end, it didn’t matter.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

The deal gives the Oilers around $8.3 million to add another piece or pieces this season and repeat a 2016-17 campaign that saw the organization reach the postseason for the first time in over a decade. Draisaitl will be a huge part of that future success and he and McDavid will lead the team to what the hockey club believes is many playoff appearances down the road.

Draisaitl’s Perspective

Because the rumored numbers were somewhat staggering, the Oilers were considering a shorter-term bridge deal. It would have saved the team money on the cap over the next two seasons and given the team some flexibility to load up this and next season with additional players, but it also virtually guaranteed that if Draisaitl repeated the year he had in 2016-17, he’d be a $10 million player down the road.

It wasn’t necessarily an approach either side wanted to take since both sides would be taking on an element of risk.

Leon never wanted to leave Edmonton, but it was important he set himself up for the long haul with a team that is among the most voted in the NHL to break out and become a contender over the next many years. Draisaitl along with Connor McDavid would form a potent one-two punch for almost a decade if the deal was right.

What’s Next for the Oilers

The Oilers now have their first and second line centers in the fold until the 2024-25 season. What becomes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is now anyone’s guess. If the Oilers want the flexibility of moving Draisaitl between center and wing, Nugent-Hopkins may not be going anywhere. However, if the Oilers intend to play Nugent-Hopkins as a third-line center, $6 million per season is a lot to be spending on a bottom-six forward.

The Oilers may also address a hole on their blue line with the absence of Andrej Sekera to start the season. Sekera is out with a long-term injury and Edmonton may need another top-four blueliner to fill the void and play alongside recently re-signed Kris Russell.

Around The NHL

With the Draisaitl deal done, players like the Bruins’ David Pastrnak may be next.