The Edmonton Oilers qualified defenseman David Musil on June 27, and he will likely sign a contract similar to Jordan Oesterle ($585,000, one year). Musil’s entry-level deal—the one that just expired—held a cap hit of $894,166. Why would Musil take a cut in pay (should he play with Edmonton)? Comes the answer: To get to the NHL, and possibly stay there. Such is the developing salary gap between the haves and have-nots in today’s NHL.
David Musil’s skill set—shutdown blue, good coverage, strong and physical—is duplicated by several young players. Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart are the most notable, but Mark Fraser may also serve as competition during the regular season. The big component that favors Fraser? You guessed it: Cap hit:
- Griffin Reinhart ($863,333 plus bonuses that could make the deal $3.213M)
- Darnell Nurse ($863,333 plus bonuses that could make the deal $1.713M)
- Jordan Oestere ($585,000 all in)
- Mark Fraser ($575,000 all in)
- David Musil (to be determined)
David Musil is a confounding story—he has played three AHL seasons, shown progress—but
is blocked by others so badly he is basically a canary in a coal mine. Scott Zerr
named him as the best defender in Bakersfield in 2015-16, and I believe him. And yet, he is back for another year.
Clearly the Oilers think he can help, or has trade value—otherwise the club would have sent him away. Musil did not play in the NHL in 2015-16—he made his debut in the previous season—but he has done fine work in the AHL.
THE BAKERSFIELD NUMBERS
These numbers are courtesy Eric Rodgers.
The numbers from Rodgers show clearly that Musil is not going to help offensively, but there is some evidence he has ability on the defensive side.
Gerry Fleming, Condors Coach: “He’s been our number-one shutdown guy and been
great on the penalty kill. We use him in all situations, we use him late
in the game when we’re up a goal, and he’s responded well. The biggest
thing is when you don’t notice Dave during a game, you know he’s had a
good game. He reads the play offensively as well. A lot of people
underestimate his value in that area but he jumps in at the right times.
He activates at the offensive blue line at the right times, he’s been
getting pucks down to the net a lot better, and creating offensive
chances for himself. But his specialty, obviously, is as a shutdown guy
and he’s done a good job at that. We’d like to see him get an
opportunity but that’s out of his control. All he can control is the way
he plays down here. At times it’s been a little frustrating for him.
We’ve had a few talks and he’d like to get an opportunity but you can’t
worry about whether or not you’re going to get an opportunity. You have
to worry about the things you can control in your game.” Source
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers are very likely to include Darnell Nurse opening night, and possibly one other defenseman from the group above that contains Griffin Reinhart, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle and Mark Fraser. It sounds fantastic and ridiculous, but in the new NHL, the key to making the grade for Musil could come in contract negotiations. ‘Aim low’ should be an insane negotiating ploy, but an NHL job for Musil may depend on it.
Photo by Mark Ferguson.
Opening Night Blue (Projected)
- Andrej Sekera 5.5M
- Oscar Klefbom 4.167M
- Adam Larsson 4.167M
- Mark Fayne 3.625M
- Brandon Davidson 1.425M
- Darnell Nurse .863M
- Jordan Oesterle .585M
It might take Musil four years to make what Fayne will this coming year. Such is the changing nature of NHL salaries, and the severe pay cut role players are taking now and in the future. The superstars are going to get paid, and the rest are going to sign the Oesterle deal. Next up: David Musil.