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Connor Brown: his salary is the talk of the town after his agent became his boss in Edmonton

Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers hired a new CEO of field hockey operations. Jeff Jackson is the lucky man, and Connor McDavid’s former agent is now his boss.

He will likely still be involved in their upcoming salary negotiations, that said… but on the other side of the fence.

It’s worth noting that McDavid isn’t his only former client in Edmonton. Connor Brown was also in Jackson’s group and signed a contract with the Oilers this summer.

He signed on July 1. Jackson was not yet an Oilers employee, but it’s safe to assume that discussions to become CEO began more than a month ago. After all, the former agent had some thinking to do and a company to divest.

That’s why Brown’s contract is the talk of the town. Was it negotiated while Jackson was playing both sides? The question arises, now that the hiring is official.

And because his cap hit has risen from $3.6m to $775,000, questions are being asked. Andrew Berkshire raised the question of whether everything was done by the book.

I agree that a small investigation could take place to get to the bottom of things. Having said that, I don’t necessarily believe, at first glance and with the information we have, that there’s anything to cry scandal about.

Why not? Because Andrew Berkshire’s tweet fails to mention the most important thing: the huge bonus involved in the contract.

It reminds me, for those who follow the ball, of the New York journalists who, in 2018, wanted to give the Rookie of the Year award to Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar over Shohei Ohtani because their offensive numbers were better… but they failed to mention the fact that Ohtani was also pitching.

Connor Brown, if he plays 10 games, will get a $3.225M bonus. So basically, if he’s even remotely healthy, he’ll get $4 million, the same amount as in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. He had a cap hit of $3.6 million, but that’s because he made less money in 2020-2021.

What you need to understand is that Brown is eligible for bonuses even though he’s not on his entry-level contract and he’s not 35. Why is that? For the same reasons as Sean Monahan: he has a lot of NHL experience and spent most of last season injured.

The Habs chose not to offer Sean Monahan a big bonus because it makes him more tradeable. Kent Hughes can withhold more salary if need be, and his new club wouldn’t have to provide the big bonus.

But Brown’s case is different. Why? Because he’s not necessarily in danger of being traded if he’s playing well.

The Oilers take advantage of the fact that the contract leaves plenty of short-term cap space. And if the player plays his full 10 games and the bonus comes on board, it can be deferred until a year from now, when the cap will have risen significantly.

And if Edmonton has the room, it can pay him this season too. It’s a win-win for the club, no doubt about it.

That said, I don’t see how it’s not a win-win for the player. After all, if he plays 10 games, which is very few, he’ll earn the same amount as in the last two seasons.

Four million dollars for him is good. And remember, agents get a commission based on the boys’ salary.

If the player plays fewer than 10 games this year after playing four last year, he won’t put the Oilers in trouble. I don’t see how this is poaching on the face of it, since Brown, like Monahan, has to “prove himself” this year in terms of health.

So Berkshire’s thinking is interesting, but the fact that he’s omitted information makes me think that I won’t be eating that bread this morning. If new details emerge, we’ll see.

It’s also worth noting that when Connor McDavid calls you (they had the same agent, which makes contact easier) to play in Edmonton, it helps to make concessions to join the NHL’s most talented player. That’s part of the equation.

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