As much as $86 million of Connor McDavid’s historic $100 million contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers this offseason is expected to come in the form of signing bonuses, as previously reported by Sportsnet.
More than anything, it’s an indication that players — even the most obvious and well compensated of today’s NHL superstars — are stocking up on their earnings in the event of either the league or the NHL Players Association opting out of the collective bargaining agreement and, in all likelihood, forcing a work stoppage.
In a time when players in professional sports’ biggest money maker, the NFL, are , Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, seemed to indicate to the National Post that the NHL’s own lockout could very well be on the way.
Are the players are (sic) taking precautions against potential CBA armageddon? The current deal runs out in September 2022, but both sides have options in 2019 to end things in 2020. Signing bonuses are generally paid on July 1, the first day of each new NHL calendar.
“My judgement is that players would be foolish not to take into consideration the possible outcomes when the contract expires or either side terminates it early,” Fehr said ominously. “They have to take that into account.”
Now, Fehr is only saying what he must. He’s the head of the NHLPA, after all — the voice for the players in future CBA negotiations. But couple his words with the actions of players around the league this offseason, and it all looks a whole lot more real.
As the Post pointed out, McDavid isn’t the only player to go heavy on bonus money in free agency this summer. All but $14 million of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price’s record $84 million extension is reportedly to be paid in yearly signing bonuses, and $14.5 million of Patrick Marleau’s $18.75 million pact with the Toronto Maple Leafs is said to fall into the same category.
So brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. The players have already begun to do so.