a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

09/20/11 64.0 Fitting Them All In

Already the chatter has begun about re-signing Taylor Hall. Terry Jones wrote this piece that appeared in the Sunday Sun. If a Tavares-like contract is what Oilers fans should expect for Taylor Hall, then how likely is it that all the team's young talent will be able to fit under the cap?

The trouble with projecting the contracts that the Oilers' young players will get is that they haven't yet shown what they will be worth. $5.5 million is probably a safe bet for Hall though, which is as good a place to start as any.

The Oilers will still have 5 players under contract when deals of the Big Three (Hall, MPS, Eberle) expire: Nugent-Hopkins, Horcoff, Belanger, Eager and Gilbert. Together, those contracts amount to a $16.125 million cap hit. We can't be sure how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change the landscape of the salary cap, so let's assume that the cap will stay the same as it is now. That would leave the Oilers with $48,175,000 in cap space.

Hall's new deal at a projected $5.5 million hit knocks the cap room down to $42,675,000. The team now has three centers, a defenseman and two wingers at opposite ends of the depth chart.

If we assume that Eberle and Paajarvi end up as 30 and 20 goal scorers respectively, it wouldn't be outrageous to sign them both long-term for a total of around $7 million per as RFAs. Neither will be eligible for arbitration, so $4 and $3 million might be fair. That leaves the Oilers with $35,675,000 and around 15 more players to sign.

It's going to be a bit of a tight squeeze to get 15 more players signed for that amount of money. That's $2,245,000 each. Keep in mind that Oilers brass is going to have to make decisions following this current season on Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Linus Omark, Gilbert Brule, Cam Barker, Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney and Devan Dubnyk. Not all of those players will be in the team's future plans, but those that are retained are going to have to be signed for the lowest possible amount to make the numbers work.

This will be a very interesting year for the Oilers from a personnel standpoint. All of the players listed in the paragraph above are going to have to show that the team can't get by without them. Otherwise, it's more than likely that some of those names will be moved in order to make sure that there will be room to sign the core to long term deals. The season after Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi need new deals is the time that Nugent-Hopkins is going to be looking for his. If he pans out as fans and management hope he will, the negotiations and cap numbers of his fellow young Oiler stars will greatly affect how much he gets paid.

It's going to take some very astute cap management to keep this team together for the long haul. Or, we can all just shut our eyes tightly and pray that the cap continues to rise.

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