But it could have been even higher.
That makes the 20-year-old league MVP the highest-paid player in the NHL on an annual basis ($12.5 million per season), but it’s about $750,000 a year less than what reports last week figured he would be getting.
McDavid’s extension kicks in after he finishes the final year of his entry-level deal next season. If the NHL’s salary cap stays at its current level of $75 million, McDavid’s salary alone would take up 16.6 percent of the Oilers‘ cap.
But any cap relief would be welcome to Edmonton. The Oilers are also working to re-sign Leon Draisaitl, who is a restricted free agent after finishing his entry-level deal and due a big raise.
“There are challenges at every juncture when you are building a winning team in the salary cap era. Connor recognizes that, Jeff Jackson (McDavid’s agent) recognizes that and we’re confident we’ll be able to ice a winning team, one that can contend and win the Cup.”
McDavid led the NHL in scoring with 100 points last season, en route to winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP. In just his second season he helped the Oilers transition from league doormat to a potential contender in the Western Conference.
Edmonton made the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season and advanced to the conference semifinal, where they took the Anaheim Ducks to seven games.
“I wanted to show that I’m in it for the long haul, and I want to win here.”
Drafted first overall by the Oilers in 2015, McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history last season. Barely out of his teens, McDavid proved his leadership qualities in the playoffs by helping the young Oilers overcome potentially painful losses.
“We showed a lot of resiliency,” he said. “We got some big blowout losses, some tough losses, some games that we definitely should have won and they were heartbreakers, but we always found a way to bounce back and get a win play our best hockey, and I think that’s a good sign moving forward. That’s something that winning teams do.”
Winning wasn’t part of the Oilers‘ recent history when McDavid first joined the team. Edmonton had missed the playoffs in nine straight seasons, often finishing at or near the bottom of the conference standings.
Things turned around quickly last season with a full year of McDavid, plus the emergence of Draisaitl and goaltender Cam Talbot and some much-needed back-end help from newly acquired defenseman Adam Larsson.
“But with the great work of Peter and his management team and the system that Todd’s put in place we’ve developed a good team here. Sure it’s just been one year, but we’re definitely on the right track.”
However, Chicago was able to have success building around Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Their cap hits of $10.5 million per season each were the previous league high before McDavid’s extension.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, back-to-back Stanley Cup winners, had to work around the large contracts of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“There’s challenges in this salary cap world. Some teams have succeeded and some teams haven’t,” Chiarelli said.
“Chicago has succeeded up to a point, and other teams like Pittsburgh have made it work and we have confidence in Connor and his ability on the ice to lead, as he has confidence in us to ice a winning team.”
For his part, McDavid seemed uninterested at all the talk of figures and cap space at the news conference.
“It really doesn’t matter how we got to a number, the important thing is I’m going to be here for the next nine years,” he said.
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