TSN’s Ryan Rishaug provided an update on Wednesday regarding the potential for an extension between the Edmonton Oilers and forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. A center who has been moved to the wing this season, Nuge has struggled at times playing regularly with Connor McDavid, but has also had big games (two goals on Monday versus the Winnipeg Jets). There’s some real debate about what the forward is worth on a long-term deal.
Rishaug writes that with the trade deadline only a few months away, “am told at this point there has been no resumption in talks between the Oilers and RNH camp.” The reporter noted that talks broke off abruptly before the season began and “its been radio silence since then.”
Nugent-Hopkins says he’d like to remain an Oiler long term and the organization wants to keep him, but figuring out the term and dollar figure in a flat cap Covid environment is extremely important for general manager Ken Holland. Thus far, it has proved tricky.
Oilers Don’t Want to Lose Nugent-Hopkins
Rishaug notes that Nugent-Hopkins (despite some inconsistencies) has developed chemistry with McDavid, who really likes playing with him. The former first-overall pick plays a number of key roles on this team including killing penalties, and gets time on their top power play unit.
More than that, the Oilers do recognize how important Nugent-Hopkins is in the room and that replacing him, if they are forced to let him go, won’t be easy or inexpensive.
Oilers May Not Have a Choice
The economic uncertainty moving forward means there’s a real chance the Oilers could lose Nugent-Hopkins and the situation is complicated, points out Rishaug. He writes:
This is not an asset the organization would want to lose for nothing in free agency, and letting him walk out the door could be a big set back, especially considering the relationship and chemistry with McDavid. Tough decisions ahead for both these sides with clock ticking.
This is definitely a situation worth keeping an eye on. If the Oilers start to move their way up the standings and push for the playoffs, they certainly won’t want to let Nugent-Hopkins walk. At the same time, they don’t want to run into a situation where there’s fear he’ll be leaving.
At the same time, if he struggles and the Oilers drop in the standings, the value placed on him moving forward may drop as well.
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