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What Do This Year’s Biggest Signings Need to do to Earn Their Contract?

McDavid & Draisaitl

The Edmonton Oilers had a huge offseason in 2017 signing their two highest scorers, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The deals were long and lucrative with Connor McDavid earning $100 million over 8 years and Draisaitl pulling in $68 million over 8 years. Ultimately, though what will it take for the Oilers’ young stars to be worth these sums?
Well, for Connor McDavid a $12.5 million/year AAV is going to require some big time scoring. At that price the Oilers effectively pre-paid for 100 pts/year (which is not a stretch given he did it last season!) and maybe even a few at 110 or 120. No doubt McDavid can probably reach those heights but if somehow McDavid were to drop to a more modest 80 pts/season this deal will start to look rich.
For Leon Draisaitl, it’s a very similar story. Take his 77 points from last season and push it forward for 8 years and bingo bango you get $8.5 million/year. If he drops below 70 points this deal starts to look bad and if he takes another step forward this year to 90+ points you’ll be hearing the word ‘bargain’.

Ryan Johansen

After finally finding a number one center the Nashville Predators made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals last year. As many teams know, trips to the Finals tend to mean truckloads of money to their franchise players in the offseason. It turns out this is even true for the Nashville Predators! While we can’t begrudge a player for asking for and accepting the most money possible this particular contract is going to be tough to live up to. Last season Ryan Johansen only scored 61 points and 14 goals but now earns $8 million/year! So what should we expect from Johansen for $8 million/year? Well, typically that price would come with about 75-80 points/season. I can’t imagine Johansen getting there however and I don’t imagine the Predators front office is expecting that either. So, while this is an overpay we suspect Nashville knows that and is just hoping for 8 more years of 60 points/season.

Joe Thornton

While you might not believe it Joe Thornton also managed to get a contract for $8 million/year this offseason (albeit just a single year instead of the six that Johansen inked). I’ll also admit that we missed badly on predicting this deal given Thornton’s age, 38, and performance last season, 50 points. That said, he’s only a year removed from scoring 82 points so it’s not inconceivable that he could find the magic again and put up some really big numbers but of course to actually earn $8 million this year we’d really have to see 80 points…

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Although he was coming off a down year last year, with only 59 points, Evgeny Kuznetsov and his agent did a really good job of leveraging his role with the Washington Capitals into a solid payday. Ultimately, that meant an 8 year deal at $7.8 million/year and it’ll be a contract that he could certainly earn but he’ll have to work to do so. As you may have guessed from the last 3 deals priced at or slightly above $8 million, to earn $7.8 million/season means we need to see about 75 points/season from Kuznetsov from here on out. That’s obviously not crazy given he had 77 points two years ago and already has 12 in 8 games this season but it’s also pretty unlikely we’ll ever be able to call this deal a bargain.

David Pastrnak

The upside of signing a quasi-bridge deal has got to be the reduction in expectations. While his peer, Leon Draisaitl, is going to need to put up 80 points/year now or face the wrath of a disappointed fan base, I very much doubt you’ll hear any criticism of Pastrnak’s bargain deal. At $6.67 million/year Pastrnak only needs to put up around 65 points/season to earn his pay. Given that he put 70 points in 75 games last year and is on a point/game pace again this season something tells me that’s not going to be a problem.

Kevin Shattenkirk

The New York native returned home to the big city this summer on a 4 year deal paying him an AAV of $6.65 million/year. There were reportedly higher offers out there but he took less to return to his home state. With that said, the deal is still pretty juicy and the offensive defensemen will have to continue to produce for this one to make sense. By our calculations that means that Rangers fans should be looking for about 16.5 minutes/night at even strength, 3 minutes/night on the Power Play, 1 minute/night on the Penalty Kill and something like 50 points/year. Basically, what Shattenkirk has been doing for a number of years now…

Alexander Radulov

While he hasn’t had a torrid start to his 5 year $6.25 million deal with the Dallas Stars, Radulov has gotten 3 points in his first 7 games so this deal could still be fine. That said, with a term this long and on a player his age I suspect the Stars were hoping to get some really solid offensive years right away. For us that would mean 65 or maybe even 70 points before he starts to decline. If he comes in at less than that on the first year of this deal it’s going to be really hard to justify.

Patrick Marleau

I’ll admit to being incredibly skeptical of this deal when it was announced. Marleau only had 48 and 46 points in his last two campaigns and given that he’s 38 how could the Leafs possibly think paying him $6.25 million/year for 3 more years made any sense at all? Now of course it’s early in the season still and I retain the rights to saying ‘I told you so’ but his 5 points in 7 games while the Leafs went 6-1 are putting him on pace to justify this one. I’m still not sure about the 3rd year of this contract but on the whole we’re looking for an average of 65 points/season over the next 3 years for this to make sense.

Mikael Granlund

The last (and actually least by AAV anyway) deal we’ll look at is Mikael Granlund’s 3 year $5.75 million/year deal with the Minnesota Wild. This deal is a ‘no-brainer’ and we’ll definitely stick our necks out and call this one a bargain in advance. Granlund put up 69 points last year while also killing some penalties and because of his ‘PKing’ and mix of goals to assists all he has to do for this deal to work going forward is score about 55 points/year. If anyone is making odds on this one I’ll take the over.

Player Cap Hit Term Points to Cover
McDavid $12.5M 8 years 100+
Draisaitl $8.5M 8 years 80
Johansen $8.0M 8 years 75
Thornton $8.0M 1 year 80
Kuznetsov $7.8M 8 years 75
Pastrnak $6.67M 6 years 65
Shattenkirk $6.65M 4 years 50
Radulov $6.25M 5 years 65
Marleau $6.25M 3 years 65
Granlund $5.75M 3 years 55

Let us know your thoughts! Do you agree with our prediction? What other metrics do you think should be considered?

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What Do This Year’s Biggest Signings Need to do to Earn Their Contracts?

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