Cap comparables: How does Leon Draisaitl’s new cap hit stack up to peers?

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli joined Prime Time Sports to talk about the new eight-year contract he signed Leon Draisaitl to and why it was in the best interests of the team.

The top two priorities for the Edmonton Oilers this off-season were to 1) lock up Connor McDavid to a long-term extension and 2) do the same with Leon Draisaitl.

Peter Chiarelli completed the first task when McDavid signed an eight-year, $100-million extension in early July and crossed the second off his to-do list Wednesday as Draisaitl inked an eight-year, $68-million deal.

Draisaitl’s annual cap hit of $8.5 million is a hefty price for a player that isn’t the face of a franchise, but if the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks with their multiple Stanley Cup victories are any indication it’s a strategy that can pay off hugely.

If you rank NHL forwards by their cap hit for the 2017-18 season, Draisaitl is 10th on the list and the only player under the age of 25 in the top 30. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a 21-year-old but if how he handled himself in 2016-17 campaign is any indication of what he’s capable of over the next eight years, Oilers fans need not worry about whether he’s worth his cap hit or not. Spoiler alert: he will be well worth it.

So with that in mind here are a handful of players around the NHL with similar contracts that Draisaitl will likely be compared to in the coming years.

Steven Stamkos (eight years, $68 million, $8.5 million cap hit)

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is the only player in the league with an identical contract to Draisaitl so we’d be remiss if we left him off the list even though he signed his deal when he was five years older than Draisaitl is now. When Stamkos was a pending free agent in 2016 it was being reported that he could’ve fetched north of $10 million per season on the open market, but he chose to stay with the team that drafted him first overall in 2008. At the end of the day, taking $8.5 million while living in a place with no state income tax saw him taking home more actual dollars than if he had a slightly higher cap hit in a different market.

Ryan Johansen (eight years, $64 million, $8 million cap hit)

Just like Draisaitl, Johansen had a breakout performance during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Draisaitl’s post-season was cut short when his team was eliminated by the Ducks whereas Johansen’s unfortunately came to an end when he suffered a left leg injury that required emergency surgery. Johansen, the fourth-overall pick from 2010, is coming off a 61-point campaign in his first full season with the Predators.

Evgeny Kuznetsov (eight years, $62.4 million, $7.8 million cap hit)

The 25-year-old Russian’s numbers dipped from 2015-16 yet he was more effective than Alex Ovechkin in the Capitals’ latest disappointing playoff run. As long as Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are healthy and on the Caps, Kuznetsov will likely never be the go-to star in Washington. You can say the same about Draisaitl and McDavid.

Vladimir Tarasenko (eight years, $60 million, $7.5 million cap hit)

Tarasenko had eight, 21 and 37 goals in his first three NHL seasons, respectively, while Draisaitl had two, 19 and 29. Okay, that means talented German might not be the pure goal scorer that Tarasenko is—few are, really—but when looking at total points Draisaitl stacks up very well with the Blues star winger. Tarasenko had 135 points in 179 games over his first three seasons, good for .75 points per game. Draisaitl put up 137 in 191 (.71 points per game) in his first three seasons. Draisaitl has also managed to stay healthier and is trending upwards on a steeper incline than Tarasenko was early in his career.

Other cap comparables:
— Jamie Benn, eight-years, $76 million, $9.5 million cap hit
— Ryan O’Reilly, seven years, $52.5 million, $7.5 million cap hit
— Johnny Gaudreau, six years, $40.5 million, $6.75 million cap hit
— Sean Monahan, seven years, $44.625 million, $6.375 million cap hit
— Nathan MacKinnon, seven years, $44.1 million, $6.3 million cap hit
— Aleksander Barkov, six years, $35.4 million, $5.9 million cap hit
— Jonathan Huberdeau, six years, $35.4 million, $5.9 million cap hit