The #Edmonton Oilers recently signed Connor McDavid to a lengthy $100M contract extension. Following that transaction, the Oilers went out and acquired Jussi Jokinen, a move that has to be called low risk due to the one-year and $1.1M terms. Next, the focal point for the Oilers will probably be Leon Draisaitl and what to offer or do with the restricted free agent. However, there is another matter that's on the horizon that has to do with Edmonton potentially executing trades in the months ahead. On that matter, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a name that will likely be mentioned.

Nugent-Hopkins is a career Oiler

'Nuge' is entering the fourth year of a seven-year contract worth $42M (contract details as per Spotrac).

Advertisements
Advertisements

He will not be an unrestricted free agent until the end of the 2020/21 season.

The reasons that he's likely to be mentioned in a lot of trade rumors in the future are three-fold. Firstly, Nugent-Hopkins carries a high cap hit at $6M per season. Secondly, he doesn't have any kind of no-trade or no-movement clause in his contract. Thirdly, his production last season wasn't really worth his salary. The latter point is certainly double-edged in the sense that it makes him a trade candidate from Edmonton's point of view, however finding a team to take him without cash considerations might be hard.

However, Edmonton might be smarter to keep Nuge around for another season than trade him. Although he didn't have a great season last year he wasn't actually total dead weight for the Oilers. His 43 points in 82 games was below par in comparison to his recent seasons in terms of #Points Per Game.

Advertisements

That said, a half-point-per-game guy still contributes to the team's offense. I think Oiler fans would be a lot happier to see Nugent-Hopkins at about 0.65 per game, but slightly better than 0.50 is not the ball and chain that some make Nugent-Hopkins to be.

Nuge had lowered playing time last season

Furthermore, when it comes to statistics they have to be thought through - not always taken at direct face value. Nugent-Hopkins played as a forward on a team that had Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid emerge in 2016/17. It's not surprising that Nuge had a decrease in points per game given that Edmonton had an increase in competition for playing time in the forward position.

In 2016/17, Nugent-Hopkins had the lowest average-time-on-ice of his career with the exception of his rookie season as he logged an average of 17:42 per game. In short, Nuge's decline in point production last season could have more to do with the emergence of Draisaitl and McDavid than Nuge himself hitting a slump. Quality teammates can help you win as a team, but they can also take some individual stats away.

Advertisements

At the age of 24, Nugent-Hopkins has to be considered a player that could still be improving. At $6M for next season, he looks a little overpaid and that has something to do with Edmonton's previous management, the management that did so bad that Edmonton ended up with a non-stop parade of high draft picks that are finally paying off.

However, Nuge isn't a bad player and, while you could do better for $6M a year, you could also do worse. Due to his youth, Edmonton should be taking a glass-half-full attitude toward Nuge. The Oilers should probably keep Nugent-Hopkins around while hoping for a 50-point season in 2017/18 out of him. That might bring out some individual boo-birds in Edmonton to a degree, but so long as Nuge is a peripheral player taking 16-18 minutes of playing time per game I think the Oilers should be satisfied as a team. #Ryan Nugent Hopkins