Johansen Signing And What It Means For Draisaitl

This summer has been another wild one for the Oilers organization. The team, once again, waved goodbye to a long-time Oiler in Jordan Eberle, signed Hart Trophy winner, Connor McDavid, to an 8-year contract, and Oilers twitter went up in flames about Kris Russell’s extension. On top of all this, everyone is also waiting for restricted free-agent, Leon Draisaitl, to re-sign with the club.

This situation has drawn the ire of a lot of Oiler fans, many of whom are worried about the implications this could have on the team’s cap structure moving forward. It has been a stressful saga to say the least, which has only been magnified by the looming threat of a predatory offer-sheet. Leon Draisaitl is a critical part of the roster and signing him to a long-term extension should be big focal point of this year’s offseason.

Luckily, I believe that this saga is in the homestretch of being resolved.

You And What Sources?

Sources? What do I look like? A credible hockey writer!?

No, I don’t have any sources that directly say that this situation is close to resolution. However, there have been signs that the two sides are coming closer to finding the right number to sign Draisaitl too. The reason I say “number” instead of “numbers” is because the term should be agreed upon by now. An 8-year term gives Draisaitl the financial security that a young player wants to start his career, while also giving the Oilers more of his UFA years. It’s a an obvious win for both sides IF it works out according to plan. The number in question is the Annual Average Value (AAV) of such a deal.

With Connor McDavid becoming the richest player in the National Hockey League, with an AAV of 12.5 million, the Oilers will have to approach big contracts with a little more hesitation. An overpay of Draisaitl could lead to the organization tying up too much money in two players, which could affect their ability to stay competitive for a longer period of time. The most glaring example of this kind of problem is seen in Chicago right now. The Blackhawks, although still a competitive team, have entered a period that is most often referred to as “Cap Hell”. This is because the Hawks have invested a total of 21-million dollars in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. This has affected their ability to re-sign other key players and add quality UFA talent. This is something that Edmonton wants to avoid at all costs.

Nice Background…Where Does Johansen Factor In?

Ryan Johansen was signed to an 8-year extension with an AAV of 8mil by the Nashville Predators yesterday.

This was such a big deal in relation to the Draisaitl negotiations because Johansen is a good comparable to the German centerman. Johansen has averaged a point total of 64 over the past 4 seasons, which is 13 less than what Draisaitl was able to achieve last year, but the crucial thing lies in the UFA years that the contract bought. Oilernation’s Jason Gregor said it well with this tweet:

The fact that the Predators were able to buy up 7 years of UFA eligibility is enormous. Those valuable years could be used for the player to maximize their AAV on the free market. When you take that into consideration and see that the same type of deal would only buy up 3 UFA years for Draisaitl….things start to become a little clearer.

Does Draisaitl’s agent view his client as a more valuable commodity than Johansen?

With Johansen, the Predators are paying for a consistent scorer and an proven exceptional centerman. As you can see in Gregor’s tweet, he’s a good bet for 60+ points. Draisaitl, on the other hand, is a lot more inexperienced at the NHL level, only playing in 191 games compared to Johansen’s 433. He is younger and did amass more points than RyJo has in his entire career (77) at the age of 21. While the stats favour Johansen, due to his consistent production, much of Draisaitl’s upside is in the potential that he holds.

The other major thing that should factor into this comparison is where each player has played. The past two years have seen Draisaitl play alongside two elite players and become a beneficiary of this fact. He flourished on a line with Taylor Hall and replicated that with McDavid this past season. I don’t consider Draisaitl a “passenger” per say but, he hasn’t exactly shown that he can drive his own line yet. You could argue that Johansen has made both Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson better players on his own line.

So…Where Does That Leave Everything?

The Nashville Predators broke the bank on Johansen because he offers up consistency and can be their 1st line center for the next 8 years. This is something that Draisaitl is going to want to prove. While I do believe that Leon will be a fantastic player in this league….I don’t believe he has established himself as a consistent NHL superstar. He has had 2 very good years in the NHL but, unlike Johansen, he has not yet proven that he can drive a line by himself. That being said, I think we can agree that his potential could have a higher ceiling than RyJo.

In the end of all this, I think Johansen’s 8×8 contract represents a number in the middle for the Draisaitl negotiations. The Edmonton Oilers should be in and around the 7.5 region; Draisaitl’s camp is probably looking for 8-8.5. I would pin a fair contract at around 7.7 for the full 8-year term. That wouldn’t be  an insurmountable gap between the two sides..and I think a resolution is on the horizon.

No matter which turn this saga takes…Leon Draisaitl will be an Oiler for years to come.


Thanks For Reading!

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What does your ideal Draisaitl contract look like? Let me know in the comments!

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