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Big contracts for young players, is it good or bad?

Published September 10, 2021 at 9:48 PM

For some time in the NHL, the new fashion is to offer lucrative contracts to players early in their career. This way, the teams ensure that they retain their services for many years.

However, this trend seems to have failed for some teams in the Bettman circuit. Take for example Connor McDavid who commands a contract of 12.5 million dollars until 2025-2026.

The Canadian is certainly the most talented player in the league. The most recent Hart Trophy winner certainly deserves his salary, but it doesn't leave much room for general manager Ken Holland to operate. The Oilers have only made it past the first round of the playoffs once since McDavid arrived in the NHL.

Another team that has decided to give huge contracts to young players is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews has a contract of $11.6 million for the next three seasons, while Mitch Marner receives $10.9 million until 2024-2025.

Add to that the contracts of John Tavares and William Nylander and these four forwards receive nearly half of the Leafs' $40.4 million payroll. Kyle Dubas is struggling to add depth in Toronto as his team once again disappointed in the playoffs last season.

Former Ducks player Ryan Kesler said that's what's wrong with Toronto: "You wonder why Toronto is struggling? Because they have two young players who are making too much money. If you want to win, leave money on the table."

Could this now be the answer to winning the Stanley Cup? In the Tampa Bay Lightning, which has just won two championships in a row, there are several players who have accepted a smaller salary to get their hands on the big honors. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point are all receiving salaries below the $10 million per year mark.

That's also the case with star forward Nathan MacKinnon, who has made it clear that he's willing to accept a significantly lower salary to win with the group in Colorado. The Canadian center receives $6.3 million annually through the 2022-2023 season.

With the salary cap likely to remain stable for a few seasons, it would not be surprising to see the Maple Leafs lose one of their stars. Kyle Dubas will have to revise his strategy if he wants the Maple Leafs to win their first Stanley Cup since 1967.
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