Call it a win-win proposition.
Joffrey Lupul and the Edmonton Oilers got the long-term deal both sides wanted yesterday, finalizing terms on a contract that will keep the speedy forward from Fort Saskatchewan in Oilers silks for the next three seasons.
After discussing the possibility of a five-year contract, Lupul, agent Peter Semonick and the Oilers settled on the three-year pact worth $6.935 million - and got the ink done with time to spare before the team opens training camp in Grande Prairie.
"I'm very happy it's done and I'm an Oiler for three years," said Lupul, the key player coming to Edmonton in the trade that dispatched unhappy Chris Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks this summer.
Likewise, GM Kevin Lowe, who had assistant GM Scott Howson handle negotiations with Semonick, is thrilled to have a rising young talent like Lupul under contract for three seasons.
Lupul, 22, scored 28-25-53 in 81 regular season games with Anaheim last season, then added nine more goals in 16 playoff games - including four in one game against Colorado in the Western Conference semifinal.
"It's the last piece of our puzzle at this point," Lowe said. "It's a good long-term commitment to a good, young player who we feel can get better and is going to get better. It's pretty exciting to think we have a player like this for a few years."
While $6.935 million - $1.5 million this season, $2.535 next season and $2.9 million in the third year - seems a steep price to pay for a player who earned $900,000 last season in the final year of his entry level contract, that's the market when it comes to tying up an emerging talent like Lupul.
"We like to think his development is just starting to peak," Lowe said. "He's gone through a couple of those formative years and those can be up and down for young players.
"It really appeared during the second half of (last) season, the light went on in terms of his level of competitiveness. He had 28 goals. The stats are there, but it's the way he battled for the puck. I like the way he performed in the series against us."
If the term of Lupul's contract pales in comparison to the 15-year pact goaltender Rick DiPietro signed with the New York Islanders yesterday, it's nonetheless the kind of commitment Lupul wanted going into his first season with his hometown team.
"Definitely, I want to be a guy who's not just here for three years, but for a long time," Lupul said. "It would almost have been like starting on the wrong foot if we would have started with a one-year deal. It's nice to know that I'm an Oiler for at least three years and, hopefully, longer."
Getting the paperwork out of the way before camp is a big relief for Lupul, who's been skating with his new teammates at Kinsmen Arenas this week. He didn't want any distractions around his Oilers debut.
"It's perfect timing for me. I wouldn't want it to go on any longer," Lupul said.
"Right now I can change my focus from contract stuff to getting ready to play hockey. It's all taken care of, so there's no excuses. I can be 100% focused on training camp."
Oilers winger Joffrey Lupul will get $6.935 million over three years.