Thursday, July 6, 2017

{allcanada} Oilers shift focus to Leon Draisaitl after Connor McDavid extension


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are expected to shift their focus to restricted free agent forward Leon Draisaitl after signing center Connor McDavid to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension on Wednesday.

The Oilers believe the extension gives them enough flexibility to surround the 20-year-old center with a strong supporting cast, including Draisaitl. McDavid, in his second NHL season, became the third-youngest player to win the Hart Trophy as MVP (Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby) after he had 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) in 82 games in 2016-17 to lead the League.

"There have been two players that have done what Connor has done at his age," Chiarelli said. "But he also cares about his teammates, and he expressed that very clear to me and he wants us to ice an excellent team, as we all do, as the fans in Edmonton do. So that's what we're trying to do."

McDavid's extension will carry a $12.5 million charge against the NHL salary cap when it begins with the 2018-19 season, $2 million more than any player in the League (Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks each will count $10.5 million).

Chiarelli would not comment when asked about the impact of McDavid's extension on Draisaitl's situation. However, after the Oilers were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he did say that getting each player signed was a top priority.

Draisaitl, 21, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists), eighth in the NHL, last season in the final year of his entry-level contract.

On Saturday, Chiarelli told the Oilers website Edmonton would match any offer sheet Draisaitl receives.

"Any time you enter into July 1, with a player of Leon's caliber unsigned, there is always that chatter (of offer sheets) across all the networks," Chiarelli said. "We're in a comfortable position and will match any offer."

The Oilers are about $17.9 million under the $75 million NHL salary cap for 2017-18, according to McDavid will count $925,000 toward the cap this season, the final one of his three-year, entry-level contract.

Edmonton re-signed defenseman Kris Russell to a four-year, $12 million contract June 23, and forward Zack Kassian received a three-year, $5.85 million contract on June 26.

The Oilers traded right wing Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for forward Ryan Strome, creating $3.5 million in cap space. Eberle has two years left on his contract at an average annual value of $6 million, and Strome has one year remaining at $2.5 million.

"There is challenges in this salary cap world, and you look at teams that have high-paid stars, and some teams have succeeded and some teams haven't," Chiarelli said. "It's about analyzing, it's about icing the best roster in a salary cap world, and we're going to continue to do that."

Edmonton last season made the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06.

"All along we've been talking about building a competitive team and a team that can compete to win the Stanley Cup," Chiarelli said. "The number that we arrived at [with McDavid] was through much productive discussion and looking into the future and looking at rosters. It was a number that Connor and his group felt it was fair and reasonable for us to continue forward in icing a real successful team."

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