The Edmonton Oilers officially made Connor McDavid the highest-paid player in the NHL with an eight-year, $100 million contract extension announced on Wednesday. The deal, which starts with the 2018-19 season, is worth $12.5 million per year.
McDavid will now carry the largest cap hit in NHL history for one player when the contract goes into effect. The Oilers have their captain locked up through the 2025-26 season.
The reigning Hart Trophy winner still has one year at a $925,000 cap hit remaining on his entry-level contract. Then he’ll receive a roughly $11 million raise to his base salary for the next eight seasons as the Oilers go all-in on committing to their franchise player.
The deal was expected to be worth $13.25 million according to recent reports, but TSN’s Bob McKenzie says McDavid “wasn’t comfortable with the number and may have insisted on lowering it.”
Presumably that’s due to concerns about the Oilers’ ability to build a winning team around his contract, which led to reports in Edmonton media openly saying his cap hit would hinder the team’s potential for success.
McDavid’s upcoming $12.5 million cap hit is 16.7 percent of the current $75 million upper limit, which will likely go up a few million by the time the contract goes into effect in 2018. The NHL collective bargaining agreement says no player can receive more than 20 percent of the upper limit, so the Oilers are good there.
The vast majority of the contract comes in the form of signing bonuses that will be paid annually on July 1. This helps minimize the risk of McDavid losing income due to a lockout in the future because signing bonuses are paid no matter what.
$86 million of the $100 million is signing bonus.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) July 5, 2017
Barring some unexpectedly massive contract for another player, nobody in the NHL will come close to McDavid’s 2018-19 cap hit. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will still be at $10.5 million, and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will join them at the same number when his extension goes into effect that year.
Nobody else is set to have a cap hit over $10 million.
McDavid will blow those numbers out of the water, and for good reason. He’s the best player to join the NHL since Sidney Crosby over a decade ago. With his restricted free agency set to arrive in a year at age 21, the Oilers wanted to take zero risks making sure they retained their superstar center as long as possible.
An eight-year term is the maximum allowed under the current CBA. It also allows McDavid to hit unrestricted free agency when he’s just 29 years old, which opens up the possibility of another monster long-term contract before his career begins winding down.
Last season at age 20, McDavid was the only player in the league to record 100 points with 30 goals and 70 assists in 82 games. In addition to the Hart Trophy, he also won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s points leader and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player, as voted by the players’ union.
In his first playoff appearance, McDavid put up five goals and four assists in 13 games. He led the Oilers to Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals before the Ducks won to advance. It was an incredible turnaround for Edmonton, which went from lottery team to Stanley Cup contender within a year, largely because of McDavid’s brilliance.
Now the Oilers have made sure that McDavid won’t be going anywhere else soon with this massive deal. It’s an extremely high price, but given the impact that he has on the ice, he’ll be worth it. Now Edmonton has a year to figure out how to structure its team next season when McDavid sees a raise of over 1,300 percent.