With the end of the regular season, we can now begin to see the final numbers on performance bonuses in player contracts for the 2021-22 season. Two of those bonus numbers will end up being a bit of a problem for the Edmonton Oilers, who owe Evan Bouchard $896,000 in performance bonuses and Ryan McLeod, as PuckPedia Notes. Bouchard, who just completed the second year of his three-year entry contract, earned $850,000 in performance bonuses this year for goals, assists, points and points per game. McLeod, who is in the final year of his entry-level contract, won $46,000 on a maximum bonus play of $57,500. In total, Edmonton owes an additional $896,000, which counts toward the salary cap.
Because the Oilers exceeded the salary cap using the LTIR, the full $896,000 will now count toward next season’s salary cap for Edmonton. While that number may not seem like a lot, the NHL is currently in a fixed salary cap period, so every dollar counts. With the salary cap for the 2022-23 season at $82.5 million, Edmonton has already committed just over $70.2 million in salary for next season, and just under $4.3 million belong to James Neal, Andrej Sekera and Milan Lucic – none of whom play for the team anymore.
The $12 million Edmonton has in remaining cap space may also seem like a comfortable margin, but taking into account their six UFAs, including defensemen Kris Russell and Brett Kulak, who have emerged as key players who could each earn a raise next season on their caps of $1.25M and $925,000, respectively, and forward Evander Kane who has bounced back well since signing with the club in January, their situation is getting a bit more strained. The Oilers also have three pending RFAs in Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and McLeod each probably owed at least a modest raise. (The top two each earned $1.175 million this season.)
Edmonton isn’t exactly in a dire cap situation this offseason, having its core, including two of their generation’s best players, signed long-term for the most part. However, their situation, particularly in a flat cap, is an example of how even the most seemingly innocuous concerns, such as an $896,000 bonus overrun, can have a ripple effect for the organization and its off-season planning.