The 2015 NHL Draft featured two generational talents that were destined to be the face of whatever NHL franchise that they were selected to. Those players were Connor McDavid, who got drafted to the Edmonton Oilers, and Jack Eichel who was selected by the Buffalo Sabres. Each player signed a three-year, entry level deal in that summer – a deal that can only see a player making a little under $1 million a year, not including any performance bonuses. Just two seasons later, both Eichel and McDavid have signed new contracts. Each contract has the players making among the most of the league. Neither contract will not kick in until the 2018-19 season, but McDavid’s will have a $12.5 million cap hit with his deal (the league’s highest), and Eichel a $10 million hit with his. Some of the comparables to Eichel’s contract are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million, Anze Kopitar at $10 million, and Jamie Benn and Alex Ovechkin at $9.5 million, according to hockey-reference.com. The comparables to Eichel’s contract put very high expectations on him.
The question is, can Eichel and McDavid live up to their new contracts?
McDavid and Eichel’s stats are both good for players that are under 21-years-old, years away from their prime. Here is the stat line for both:
McDavid: 130 Games played, 49 goals, 103 assists, 152 points
Eichel: 145 Games played, 49 goals, 67 assists, 116 points
While there are several other determining factors as to why they got the money they did, points are a great basis to guide this argument. Through three games into the 2017-18 season McDavid is averaging 1.17 points per game, while Eichel is only averaging .8 points per game. Although both of these players are young, only time and production in the future will tell if these contracts will be worth it. Both of these players are the best on their teams, and you do have to pay to lock up your top guys. Eichel is likely going to have a tough time winning the scoring title with guys like McDavid, Kane and Sidney Crosby still thriving with their teams now. But as far as the contract goes, getting both guys locked down now was smart for both teams, and Sabres and Oilers fans can only hope that their faces of the franchise continue to get better and lead their teams to a Stanley Cup.