Connor McDavid is one of the most electrifying players in the National Hockey League, but his biggest effect on the NHL may have come in early July. His eight-year, $100 million contract extension will give him the highest cap hit ($12.5 million per year) in the NHL. McDavid deserves it. There’s no questioning that, but his contract will not only affect the Oilers for the next eight years; it’s going to affect the other 30 teams.
“The biggest change [was] who qualifies to break the $10-million barrier,” one executive said to Elliotte Friedman. “Before Connor signed his contract, it wasn’t about individual trophies. It was about Stanley Cups.”
Provorov has two years left on his entry-level contract. Whether or not GM Ron Hextall decides to lock him up long term or sign him to a bridge deal is a matter of speculation. Since Patrick made the team, his entry-level contract will carry him until the end of the 2019-20 season. He’ll be 21 years old. That season is also presumed to be the final campaign before another expected lockout is set to begin in September 2020. But that’s another article for another time.
When Patrick is set for a new contract, Claude Giroux will have two years left on his eight-year extension and Jakub Voracek will have four years remaining. Similar to Provorov’s situation, it remains to be seen how Hextall will approach negotiations with Patrick.
What is more concrete is narrowing down what can and what will affect Patrick and Provorov’s future with the team.
How they develop
We all got to witness the rapid ascent of Provorov during his rookie season. He managed to become the team’s number one defenseman a quarter of the way into the season and showed no signs of slowing down as the calendar moved toward April. Provorov’s offseason workouts are the stuff that makes us NARPs stare at the screen wondering how a man gets through a single week of that, let alone an entire summer. If Provorov hits his ceiling, he will become one of the league’s top defenseman, and he’ll get paid as one.
Patrick, on the other hand, is still a bit of a mystery at the moment. His assault on junior hockey is well documented, but his professional impact is yet to be determined. But, should the 18-year-old pivot have a successful rookie year and continues to progress from there, Hextall may see it in his best interest to lock up the cornerstones of the youth movement to long-term deals.
How the market is set in the next two to three years
This offseason alone has shown how teams value their young studs. Ryan Johansen (8 years, $64 million), Jaccob Slavin (5 years, $31.7 million) and Colton Parayko (5 years, $27.5 million) each inked long-term deals worth a hefty sum for players under the age of 25. Leon Draisaitl joined them with an eight-year contract of his own worth $68 million.
Ten-million dollars could now be the precedent for the league’s top players. Championship or no championship. Aside from McDavid, look no further than Carey Price’s fresh extension that will pay him $10.5 million a season for the next eight years. How about Jack Eichel’s deal that will pay him $10 million until 2026. Will Patrick and/or Provorov ascend to that level? Maybe. We’ll see in the next few years.
The current core
Teams that don’t have to fret about the McDavid effect are teams with an “internal cap” as Friedman put it. The Tampa Bay Lightning have their two best players signed to long-term deals, which should help them in the future. The Flyers are in a similar situation with Giroux ($8.275 AAV) and Voracek ($8.25 AAV).
As of right now, no one on the Flyers is going to make more than either of them, but if one or both is sent packing, the sheet is wiped clean and the market will determine the extension. There’s even a possibility Patrick gets a higher-paying deal if he hits his ceiling. This goes back to the previous two points: How Patrick & Provorov develop and the state of the market.
The Draisaitl & Eichel contracts are interesting points. Mostly because Draisaitl and McDavid are teammates and their contracts are separated by $4 million. It’s an interesting note because Friedman interviewed several agents and one of them came back with this quote in regards to how McDavid’s deal affects the top players in the game.
“They are going to be saying, ‘I know I’m not Connor McDavid, but I’m not $6M worse than Connor McDavid.”
Enter Eichel’s new deal. Whether or not he would have made $10 million a year before the McDavid deal is speculation. What matters is now. McDavid’s deal undoubtedly played a role in negotiations. The cornerstone of the Buffalo Sabres played only 61 games last year, but he totaled 57 points. Eichel is a future superstar in the league – if he already isn’t one.
If Provorov and Patrick prove they are rising or have risen to the upper echelon, Hextall will have to pay them.
Hextall and Co. will have plenty of time to figure things out, but Hextall has always been a forward thinker. They are likely considering every scenario and how to approach it. The Flyers are in an enviable situation with a good problem to have. They potentially have a no. 1 center, and a no. 1 defenseman to build around for years to come. The coming seasons will be a fun time as we watch the future take shape.