NHL Salaries

Edmonton Oilers face salary cap breach

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.