The Edmonton Oilers may have lost two in a row and to suggest the team might look at trading center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a result is absurd. That said, there will come a time when the Oilers will have to decide what to do with The Nuge and, with a better second-line center in Leon Draisaitl and need on almost every wing, is Nugent-Hopkins really a guy you want to overpay in your bottom six?
That’s a question, among others, the Oilers may have to ask.
Debate Over Nugent-Hopkins Value
Tuesday, on TSN 1260, both Jason Gregor and Jason Strudwick asked the question, what does a winning Oilers team look like? Then they asked, is Nugent-Hopkins a part of it? How much is he making and where is he playing?
At first, Strudwick was not at all behind the idea that Nugent-Hopkins was dispensible. But, when Gregor pointed out that, on a winning team, Nugent-Hopkins is not a third-liner who makes $7 million, Strudwick began to see the other side of the argument.
Ignore, for a second, that Nugent-Hopkins is on pace for some of his lowest totals as an Oiler this season, even at 50-to-60 points, he’s a second-line center on most NHL teams, because most teams know what he can do. In Edmonton, where the Oilers badly need help on defense and in their bottom-six, Edmonton more important needs are better wingers, better depth and for Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to be pushing their own lines. Nuge is an expensive option the Oilers might be able to afford.
This isn’t to say Nugent-Hopkins can’t play wing. He’s already proven he can. But, is that the direction the Oilers are leaning?
A Nugent-Hopkins Extension Will Cost the Oilers
Nuge has this season and next remaining on his current contract. He’s making $6 million per season, whereas an extension will probably cost the Oilers around $7 million or more. As a 28-year-old unrestricted free agent, there won’t be a shortage of suitors.
Seasons of around 50-65 points make him attractive to a number of teams and a center with his leadership skills, ability to kill penalties and flexibility in any forward spot, make him an option for a number of teams.
Are the Oilers better served to spend that money elsewhere? Perhaps a top-two d-man or to shore up their goaltending, which will need to be addressed the summer prior?
The Oilers Like Him
Nugent-Hopkins is valuable. I, for one, hope the team doesn’t trade him. But, he might be the most valued trade chip the team has. That makes him someone the organization will have to look at when it comes time to chat with other teams about the roster moving forward.
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