The NHL preseason is well underway and the regular season will start in early October. The Edmonton Oilers enter the season with tremendous promise to make the playoffs and probably to even do well within them. One player that promises to receive a lot of attention in the months ahead is long-time Oiler, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

In a preview of the upcoming season Doug Harrison, writing for CBC Sports, commented on Nugent-Hopkins. The writer asked if he will "regain his offensive mojo" in 2017/18 and seemingly answered on the pessimistic side:

"It would seem a no-brainer," Harrison wrote regarding Nuge's chances of getting his offensive punch back, "if Oilers head coach Todd McLellan had the 2011 first-overall pick skating on the right side with McDavid.

But it's believed Nugent-Hopkins...will split his time at center, mainly on the third line and with the second unit" (September 19th).

The third line isn't bad for Nuge

Of course, the idea that Nugent-Hopkins needs McDavid as a linemate to have a bounce-back season detracts from the fact that it's up to Nugent-Hopkins himself to take command of his production. On that matter, playing on the third line doesn't necessarily hurt Nuge's chances. While being a third-line player means you're far from the best player on your team, the nice thing about it is that you get to play against the other teams' third-line players in general. Nugent-Hopkins could bounce back from the depths of the peripheral lines, a matter that Edmonton fans will have to wait and see on.

Trade talks should persist

But one matter that probably won't go away with Nuge is that he's probably not going to see the Trade-rumor talk die. It has been persistent over the offseason with articles springing up on the matter every so often. The reason, of course, is that Nugent-Hopkins makes $6M US per season, his stats haven't matched that salary recently, he doesn't have a no-trade clause, and the Oilers have a lot of good players in his position.

If Nuge plays bad, then the Oilers will want to trade him and would probably have to eat some of his salary in any trade. If Nuge plays well, then he doesn't he become an amazing player to trade away given what he might return and given that the Oilers have depth in their forwards? Those circumstances will make it nearly impossible for Nuge not to be mentioned in trade rumors.

Furthermore, Nugent-Hopkins is a player from the old days in Edmonton (i.e., pre-2015). The Oilers selected him in 2011, and his current contract is one that references the wheelings-and-dealings of previous Edmonton management, the exact management that earned the Oilers, so many high drafts picks with egregious results. Peter Chiarelli hasn't had any problems shipping out old-school Oilers in Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall in the last two offseasons. While Nuge is a fan favorite that won't count for all that much when Chiarelli is mixing his liquids in his Oiler-labelled chemistry flasks.

The main plot in Edmonton's regular season is that the Oilers are in the hunt for a division title. The situation with Nugent-Hopkins is kind of a subplot.

The best thing that might happen for Nuge regarding staying an Oiler is for something to go wrong with the other forwards. What's bad for one player could be good for Nugent-Hopkins, even if it's not nice to think about. Of course, at this point the scenarios are endless, but it's understandable why many would see Nuge as a trade prospect given the way the Oilers look right now.