Will McDavid Complete His Contract With the Oilers?

by | Jan 6, 2019 | Soapbox | 20 comments

The Edmonton Oilers are not in a good place right now.

Could Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid one day seek a trade? (Photo via NHL Images)

Despite the presence of superstar center Connor McDavid, the Oilers entered the first full week of 2019 having lost eight of their last 10 games. As of Jan. 5, they sat four points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

So far, the Oilers have done a lousy job providing McDavid – the NHL’s best player – with a suitable supporting cast. The fact they’re even within striking distance of a playoff berth is due to his efforts. Without their 21-year-old captain, they’re jockeying with the bottom feeders to win the Jack Hughes sweepstakes in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery.

Since last season, the Oilers’ struggles prompted some observers to wonder if they risk wasting McDavid’s best years. Toronto Star columnist and TSN contributor Bruce Arthur was the latest to weigh in on this problem.


McDavid, of course, is a team player who really wants to help the Oilers return to Stanley Cup glory. Demanding a trade probably hasn’t entered his mind.

Nevertheless, Arthur’s comment raises some interesting questions. At what stage would McDavid entertain the notion of a trade? If management, be it current GM Chiarelli or his successor, fails to significantly improve the Oilers, would McDavid request a trade before his contract expires?

When Arthur called the Oilers “a stinking franchise”, he wasn’t slamming the city of Edmonton or Oilers fans. He’s referring to how poorly they’ve been managed for the past decade. Nearing the halfway point of this season, there’s little sign of improvement.

McDavid, meanwhile, is a former Hart Trophy winner and two-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s scoring leader and of the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s top player as voted by the players.

With 23 goals and 61 points in 40 games, McDavid is the Oilers’ leading scorer and entered this week sitting fifth among the NHL scoring leaders. At his current pace, he’s within range of a career-best 50 goal, 130-point performance.

McDavid is also in the first year of an eight-year contract, giving management until 2026 – when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status – to build a contender around him.

Most observers will consider a McDavid trade before the expiration of his contract a remote possibility. In response to Arthur’s comments, some cited Hall-of-Famers like Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman as examples of superstars sticking with their teams despite lean early years and eventually being rewarded for their loyalty with Stanley Cup glory.

Lemieux and Yzerman, however, played for teams whose management eventually surrounded them with quality talent. The same cannot be said right now for the Oilers and McDavid.

Perhaps like Lemieux and Yzerman, McDavid’s loyalty will be rewarded in time. But what if it isn’t? What if the Oilers fail to develop into a Cup contender? What if, in three or four years, McDavid realizes he’s wasting his time and talent on a perennially mediocre franchise? What if he wants to join a contender while he’s still in his prime playing years?

If so, what would be the asking price for the league’s best player?

We discussed this during last week’s Face Off Hockey Show. The last time the best player in the league was traded while still in his prime was Wayne Gretzky in 1988 when he was shipped by the Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in a multi-player deal.

Taking into account how much the league has changed since the Gretzky trade, including the implementation of the salary cap, we guessed the Oilers’ asking price would be a first-line center, a top-four defenseman, one to two first-round draft picks and one or two top prospects.

To ensure the best possible return, we also suggested trading McDavid before his no-movement clause kicks in on July 1, 2022. That allows the Oilers to send him wherever they wish without his approval, assuming they’re willing to be that coldblooded or McDavid doesn’t care where he goes.

All of this, of course, is mere speculation on our part. Feel free to pitch your hypothetical trade proposals in the comments section below.

For now, there’s no indication McDavid wants out of Edmonton. He’ll probably remain the good soldier like John Tavares was with the New York Islanders. Tavares spent nine years with the Isles but had little to show for his efforts and finally departed via free agency to Toronto last summer. McDavid could also opt for greener pastures when his contract expires.

The longer the Oilers remain “a stinking franchise,” the more questions will be raised about McDavid’s future in Edmonton.


  1. Really hope Oilers fire Chiarelli and fast!! He has no clue how to build a team! McDavid is high class talent and Chiarelli has surrounded him with poor players. Outside of 5 or 6 players they’ve got no one. Bring in a GM who understands the NHL of today. Oilers need to go get Yzerman.

  2. OK so Tavares isn’t and wasn’t a good soldier. He’s a back stabbing weasel who waited until his dream team wouldn’t have to give up any assets for him before he abandoned ship. The Isles had some decent seasons, made the playoffs and brought in a new GM and Stanley cup winning coach to try to convince him to stay.

    JT went out of his way to profess loyalty to the Isles and shut down any talk of going to Toronto so that the Isles wouldn’t move him for assets before the clock expired on his contract. He apparently also asked them not to trade him at the deadline.

    When asked why he’s scoring at the highest level in his career he says he’s hungrier around the net suggesting that he may have been mailing it in on the Island. The suggestion, or inference, that there was no talent built around him is bs. They are currently in a playoff spot without him so clearly there were a few guys there that could play.

    My suspicion is that JT new well in advance, perhaps years, that he was going to bolt to the Leafs at the first chance and didn’t want the team to have to give up any assets to acquire him which is why he left the second he could without them having to poney up.

    As for McDavid, he’s certainly the fastest player in the nhl but I’m not sure it’s translating into the “best”. His team doesn’t win, he seems to be hard to play with and with his style who can keep up? Also given his contract and the cap it’s always going to be a challenge to build a complete team around a guy taking up so much of the cap. They’ve made some serious contract mistakes (Lucic, RNH, Dreisetl…) and haven’t drafted well at all. I still think he stays because anyone else who can afford him under the cap, won’t have the assets to move for him.

    • Good soldier? This post is so sad in so many ways.

    • McDavid hard to play with? Sorry styx but this post is beyond nonsensical.

    • Now this is a great post!

  3. Ahahahahahahahahahah @above

    • Clueless. I guess when you look at the players JT played on the isles vs how they did with JT vs how they did without, like when traded away…who JT is playing with now, not only on his wings but the team lineup ya soooo right about mailing it in and McD fast but not the best player? Ya doing hard stuff faster and better than anyone else I can see how you can see that not translating into the “best”.

  4. I wonder how much Tim Murray would have been willing to surrender to draft McDavid over Eichel

  5. It’s sad that one of the greatest talents in the game is rotting away in Edmonton. What a waste of Mcdavid. I don’t think that he stays the full length of that contract if they can’t turn around that disaster .

    It’s strange he even committed himself to stay beyond what he needed to in order to get the hell out of there…

    I know , I know, he just loves Edmonton! His eyes told us that when that lottery ball dropped and he learned his fate. He looked super excited!

    • Had the same impression when Mathews was drafted by the Leafs 🙂 He looked like wanted to throw up. Perhaps he’s learned to like it in his time there but he sure didn’t look all that hyped when they picked him.

      • You need to watch Matthews a bit more – he always has that look on his face.
        As for McDavid, fabulous player in a great hockey town. They’ll get it together and he’ll hold a Cup one day.

    • I’ve said this for a long time now, it’s not McDavid that’s rotting away in Edmonton, but an entire franchise… No one wants to play hockey in Edmonton.

      Edmonton has built the world around their hockey, (they’ve really done a nice job). But in the end, there are much better places to live, and raise a family…

  6. trade Nylander, Kapanin and Dermott plus 1st rounder for Mcdavid… who needs defence when you have the vest canadian and amercian player in the team.

  7. JT never mailed it in. He gave everything he had and then exercised his rights under the CBA. The only difference I see in JT is that he is playing with better players therefore there are better results.

    From a public relations perspective it would have been better to have McDavid in Toronto especially now that they are rebuilding properly but Matthews will now benefit from that.

    If Oilers don’t get a better supporting cast McDavid could end up like Price and have no chance at a cup.

    I am a Leaf fan and if Matthews leaves when he has a chance to be a free agent I won’t like it but that is his right.

  8. If we lose McDavid I will Never spend a another nickel on this franchise!

    Kate’s needs to clean house COMPLETELY! COMPLETELY!!!
    Then he needs to keep his nose out of the organization!!!

  9. Chiarelli will trade Draisaitl for a another mid-pairing d-man before he trades McDavid….

  10. Ya wonder what’s wrong with this town.. Running Mcdavid out now.. at that value I’m pretty sure every team in the league will want him 50 times over.. the Gretz deal was a fire sale and the Oil lost horribley ., so in the imaginary world where we run him out of town I think they might have learned something from the Gretz deal.. likely be more like 3 firsts.. a # 1 D .. a high scoring forward and a couple prospects might get ya in range.. but this is hogwash anyway.. what year was Steve drafted ?? What year did he first win anything ?? Significant?? If I recall I think Mario had 5-6 seasons .. 1984 draft .. 91 cup.. Steve ?? 1983 draft .. 1997 cup ?? Calm the F$&@“ down !!!!!

  11. Since were dealing with Chiarelli here woukd be my lowball offer….

    McDavid to Toronto for Nylander, Brown, Gardiner, Zaitsev, sparks, bracco and two first rounders 2019 and 2020

    • Still not enough.

  12. Another idiot insider from Toronto still sour cuz the leafs didn’t get McDavid. All these stores of McDavid wanting out come from Toronto get over it its sad really.