The Edmonton Oilers are likely a much better hockey team today than they were yesterday but they are also a team that is being rewarded, handsomely, for a decade of incompetence.
It is true that the NHL draft lottery exists to give a leg up to teams that have fallen on hard times but the Oilers will now have FOUR 1st overall picks in their lineup and unless their management can deliver a winner in short order, they will deserve every bit of scorn from hockey fans all over the world will heap on them.
With Connor McDavid in the fold, Kevin Lowe and Co. have likely bought themselves more time with fans and, most importantly, owner Daryl Katz but unless they can surround all that young talent with the right veterans (something they have shown little aptitude for), the stakes will be very high.
I would say they have the length of Connor McDavid’s entry level contract to win a Stanley Cup and, if they haven’t, it will be time to blow it all up again.
There are a few reasons for that.
The most important of those is that the Oilers will be in a very tenuous cap position with all of Hall, Eberle, Hopkins and, perhaps, Yakupov earning big dollars and, one would imagine if McDavid lives up to his draft billing, a second contract that far eclipses the $6 million now being paid to Hall, Eberle and Hopkins.
When you consider they have to acquire (and pay) TWO top pairing defensemen and a legitimate starting goaltender, they are likely to have very little remaining cap space to fill out a team with good complimentary players.
Of course, they will likely rely on some of their prospect depth to fill out the bottom of the order but, bear in mind, in 3 years time some of the players will also be needing second (more expensive) contracts as well.
Prudent management I think should already be looking 3-4 years down the road and realize that they need to make some moves now to prevent that situation from developing.
If we assume that two top pairing D are likely going to cost north of $5 million each, you could see a situation in Connor McDavid’s 4th season where the Oilers are paying him $8M, Hall, Hopkins and Eberle $6M each and Yakupov perhaps $5M.
That would be a minimum of $41M to pay 7 players and, depending on where the cap is at, could make it exceedingly difficult to round out a winning roster.
The Oilers can, of course, move any one of those highly paid pieces at any time but, considering they desperately need to fill out they D corp and get solid goaltending, it make a whole lot of sense to start that process right away and get on with trying to win.
Tomorrow just arrived.