As the Edmonton Oilers try to figure out a contract extension for forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, one has to wonder if the team and the player will be unable to meet in the middle and the next step is similar to what’s going on in Carolina right now between the Hurricanes and defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Could the Oilers get to a situation where they tell Nugent-Hopkins to test the market?
John Shannon was a guest on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Monday and Stauffer asked what Shannon thought of the news out of Carolina that the team had told Hamilton to explore the market. On the surface, it seems like a big risk or a sign that the defender is leaving the organization, but Shannon didn’t think this was a situation where the Hurricanes were trying to maximize the return on any trade, nor an indication that the team wants to deal him. In fact, Shannon said it wouldn’t surprise him at all if the Dougie came back to the Hurricanes and signed an extension after this process was over.
What Shannon thinks is going on here is that the Hurricanes have told the player and his agent that ‘this is our number’ and that the team has done their research, looked at what they need to do and theorized about what other teams can or will do. Ultimately, they’ve decided this is what the team can afford and is comfortable with. Shannon said it’s not the approach every team would take, but that this might be how Hurricanes’ owner Tom Dundon does business.
From there, they told the player and his agent to test the market and see if a better deal is out there. If there isn’t, the Hurricanes would welcome Hamilton back and will negotiate in good faith until they put a deadline on things.
This sounds an awful lot like what the Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins could be going through.
Coming into this season, the belief was the Oilers and the Nugent-Hopkins’ camp were close on an extension. Things changed over the course of the season. Nugent-Hopkins didn’t produce quite as expected, he is being viewed more as a winger than a center and the flat salary cap has dropped the overall value of forwards across the league. The Oilers may have a number they’re good with and the agent wants more.
Elliotte Friedman noted:
“I got to tell you, that one has been tough. They were really close before the season started and it fell apart at the last second. I don’t know what is going to happen there. Whatever was on the table then I’m not convinced is on the table now. We’re going to have to see.”
Might Holland Let Nugent-Hopkins Test the Market?
The downside of the Oilers doing what the Hurricanes are doing is that another team might value Nugent-Hopkins more than the Oilers do. It’s not that the Oilers don’t value him; most reports suggest both sides want this to work out. That said, for GM Ken Holland, he’s got a lot of things he needs to tackle this offseason. Drawing a line in the sand on a Nugent-Hopkins extension might be the best way to handle this particular piece of business.
If Holland has done his research, feels he’s making the best offer in terms of both money, situation, roster spots and other factors that might play into the forward’s thinking, maybe the team is comfortable saying, ‘this is our best offer. See what your options are and we’ll be here waiting for you if there isn’t one you like better.’
It could backfire. But, if Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay, sees the Oilers as a good situation and feels he’d rather be part of a winning team than move onto another club that isn’t in the growth stage the Oilers are, it could work out that Nugent-Hopkins chooses a good deal with long-term security over a great deal that feels like a home run.
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