TSN spent some time yesterday discussing how important it was for the Edmonton Oilers to get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins signed to a contract extension at some point this season. That said, it’s being reported today that the Oilers have drawn a line in the sand and the team is willing to let Nugent-Hopkins walk away if their internal cap on the player doesn’t mesh with their overall plans.
As per a report from TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the Oilers “have made it clear they have no plans to go north of $7 million per year on a long-term extension” with Nugent-Hopkins. He will be an unrestricted free agent next season and the team has decided, as much as they’d like to keep him and as popular as he is inside the room, $7 million is their limit.
We’ll see if this poses an issue for the center-turned winger or for the Oilers as Seravalli also projected Nugent-Hopkins to be the top free agent on TSN’s list heading into the offseason. He notes:
There is no question fan (and team) favourite RNH wants to remain in Edmonton. But to this point, negotiations have gone in fits and starts, and the Oilers have made it clear they have no plans to go north of $7 million per year on a long-term extension.
That this news is being revealed on the opening day of the Oilers 2020-21 season is a bit odd, but perhaps this isn’t new information for Nugent-Hopkins and his representation. Speculation is that negotiations have been on and off for some time and that the Oilers and Nuge have decided to put further talks on hold for a while.
The Oilers have around $24 million in cap space next year, so their limit is an internal one. It’s not necessarily that they can’t afford to pay more.
The Risk In Taking a Firm Stand With Nugent-Hopkins
The former 1st round pick in the 2011 draft is going to be a winger for the entire 2020-21 season and that will may have a huge impact on his numbers as he plays with Connor McDavid all season for the first time — barring some sort of major line juggling. If he has a huge season, he choose to see what the market will offer. If he doesn’t, the Oilers should be able to renew him per season for under a number that starts with a seven.
There is a slight risk in letting him hit free agency. Not just because he can sign with another team, but because the Seattle Kraken will be joining the NHL next season and if there’s one team willing to overspend, it could be the Kraken.
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