It is definitely too early to be talking about the off-season of 2022 but the Oilers have painted themselves into a corner and its time to discuss.
The summer of 2022 is going to be interesting as it will shape the direction of the Oilers RW moving forward. Jesse Puljujarvi (JP) & Kailer Yamamoto (KY) are both in need of new contracts and the Oilers have essentially pitted the two against each other, having their deals expire the same season and for the same dollar this season.
Based on the Oilers camp line combinations it is fair to say both players will be given a decent chance to maximize their respective values. JP paired with McDavid and KY paired with Draisaitl, both JP & KY have played with their respective partners and found successes in their time together. Yamamoto’ success came two seasons ago, following his call up from the AHL, where he collected 26pts in 27 games. Puljujarvi’s success came last season having worked his way up the Oilers depth chart, going from riding shotgun with Kyle Turris to Connor McDavid in a short period of time. Its hard to say either has the leg up on the other player when it comes to line-mates, although JP’s line-mate is the most gifted player the NHL has seen since perhaps Mario.
Contract comparables are a terrific spot to jump in as they more than likely will provide the frame-work for the two players next deals. Here is a list of recent contract signings of right-wingers in similar age ranges of JP & KY:
- Brock Boeser (22) $5.875m x 3yrs
- Travis Konecny (22) $5.50m x 6yrs
- Alex Tuch (23) $4.75m x 7yrs
- Colin White (21) $4.75m x 6yrs
- Kevin Labanc (24) $4.725m x 4yrs
- JT Compher (24) $3.5m x 4yrs
Looking at the numbers set above we can see an upper and lower range, of which we should fully expect the deals of JP & KY to fall within. But where amongst that number set will they fall? The upper range will be very difficult for either player to reach, Boeser signed his extension after posting back to back 50+ point seasons and Konecny after back to back 45+ points seasons.
Only one of those players listed was coming off a bridge deal, every other player was signed to those deals off of their ELC contracts. Kevin Labanc signed a $1m x 1yr deal in the summer of 2019/2020, in what was certainly a favor to Doug Murray. Nevertheless, it is the becomes the front runner for potential contract framework. Where Labanc differs from JP & KY is the pre-contract point production in which he produced 40 & 56 points the 2 seasons previous. Neither Yamamoto or Puljujarvi have come close to those numbers yet. Last season JP played at a 0.45pts/gm clip, that number carried to a full 82 games equals 37pts. When you further consider his likely line-mates (Connor McDavid & Zach Hyman) it seems like a safe assumption to say JP will, at a minimum, meet or exceed last seasons production. If JP does improve, even just slightly, he will fall into a similar pts production range as Labanc.
Jesse Puljujarvi Prediction: 2021/2022 Regular Season
- 24 – 24 – 48
- Contract Extension Signed Mid Season
- $4,750,000 AAV x 8 years
- JP will prove to be a long term fit with McDavid and Edmonton management will move quickly to lock the player up before offer-sheet season.
The case for Kailer Yamamoto is all the more interesting, because what player will we see in 2021/2022? If we see 2020 KY who was recalled and came out like a bat out of hell then the Oilers will be in line for a couple decent raises. However, if the KY of last season returns the Oilers should lean on the comparable of JT Compher. The two are similar players in style of play, undersized but tenacious forecheckers, and in relative point production levels. Last season Yamamoto played at a 0.40pts/gm pace, much lower than his near point per game clip from the previous season, and if we apply that production level to a full 82 game season KY will fall into the 30-35 point range. That number feels conservative and as many Oilers fans will point out there were many nights where KY could have had one or two but left with none. Baring a slow start the opportunity for Yamamoto to succeed is right there, as he has a Art Ross winner centering his line and will see 2nd unit powerplay time. If there is an uptick in production the Compher comp is likely lost and the Oilers will be looking at Labanc, White & Tuch.
Kailer Yamamoto Prediction: 2021/2022 Regular Season
- 15 – 25 – 40
- Contract Extension Signed Summer of 2022
- $3,775,000 AAV x 3 years
- KY will finish somewhere between the Compher/Labanc comps and take a deal that will walk him to his UFA years.
The truth is predicting contracts is a fools game, the players production levels are just one of the many things that help determine a contract number. There are many other factors such as a players arbitration rights, years of service, organizational depth, team cap space, player desires and team perceptions to name a few. With regards to JP & KY this season will be a defining moment for each player, as it sets them up for the next 3 – 8 years. A successful season will mean a decent raise with a long term commitment. A so – so season could mean a slight bump in pay with little to no long term commitment. A unsuccessful season will likely mean a new city or a lesser role. Edmonton is a team on the rise and they need their top 6 players to preform like top 6 players. And with prospects like Holloway, Lavoie and Bourgault on the rise JP & KY will need to cement their spots in the top 6 this season or risk falling out.