The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs were among last season's basement-dwelling teams but are currently in playoff positions, and it's partly because of the financial flexibility afforded to teams with a lot of players on entry-level contracts (ELCs).
On the flip side, a reliance on such players can lead to headaches down the road, when too many of these all-too-brief contracts expire, forcing the front office to make some awfully difficult decisions.
As teams like the Chicago Blackhawks have repeatedly shown, the timing of these contracts needs to be carefully managed and their benefits extracted to maximum advantage before they are selectively exchanged for future assets.
What can the Oilers and Maple Leafs learn from recent history so that they can become perennial playoff contenders like the Blackhawks? Which teams are getting the most production out of players on entry-level contracts? Let's take a look.