Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Seven more years

Jonathan Willis
September 19 2013 02:11PM

 

The Edmonton Oilers announced on Thursday that they had signed centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a seven-year contract extension.

The cap hit - $6 million per season - matches those of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. By signing those two players to $6 million/year contracts, the Oilers established a benchmark for both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and, presumably, Nail Yakupov one year from now.

Some will doubtless question the dollars involved here - particularly with Nugent-Hopkins coming off a difficult half-season - but the fact is that the 2011 first overall pick has scored at a level in the NHL that can make the Oilers feel very comfortable with his long-term upside:

Like Tyler Dellow, I tend to think that a bridge contract was never a likely outcome here. Not only that, but a bridge contract is a way to defer when a player is paid and minimize risk. In the case of the Oilers, it makes no sense to pay less now so they can pay more later, and in the case of Nugent-Hopkins the risk is minimal - this wasn't a late pick surprising, this is a guy with a track record of performance that made him first in his draft class and got him into the NHL at 18, and then saw him produce in the world's toughest league at an age when many future stars are still back in junior.

This is a good player to bet on. The money is a little steeper right now than it would be in a perfect world, but this has the potential to be a bargain contract relative to performance very soon. Given that Nugent-Hopkins has a year left on his entry-level contract, this new pact might turn out to be fair value from day one. By the end of this deal, the terms should be excellent value for the team.

Nail Yakupov's contract is now a fait accompli, meaning the Oilers will have four forwards at the cost of $24 million. Some will lump Justin Schultz in with that group; he may or may not get the same deal but he hasn't earned it today - with one year left on his entry-level contract, 2013-14 is shaping up to be a very big year for Schultz. 

Recently around the Nation Network

First, a quick reminder: StreakCred is free for the pre-season - sign up to win not only real money but also something far more valuable: NationGear. 

Earlier this week, the Winnipeg Jets locked up general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for two more years. At Jets Nation, Travis Hrubeniuk explains why that's a little odd:

I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that the timing of this is a little weird. No, not that it was announced in the middle of training camp just over two weeks from opening night, but because of the state of the team. Kevin Cheveldayoff has been in control of the Winnipeg Jets for just over two years now. Admittedly, they have been two very peculiar years, but he has had two years nonetheless, and little has truly changed in this team's overall standing. Yet, despite there still being three seasons remaining on his contract, TNSE has decided that his moves to this point have been sufficient enough to warrant an extension?

Click the link above to read more, or feel free to check out some of my recent stuff below:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#151 StHenriOilBomb
September 19 2013, 08:54PM
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DSF wrote:

Of course it's "doable" if you have the right players at the right price to plug into those spots and IF you can win a cup that way.

I would think the two 3rd line wingers are likely to run you at least $2.0M each if they are any good, so that leaves you with $1.2M for the last 3 forward spots.

If you look at Detroit as a contending but not championship team, their 4th line is currently:

Nyquist ($950K ELC)

Helm ($2.1M)

Tootoo ($1.9M)

Because Detroit only has 3 (Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Howard) making more than $5M in 2014/15, they have a ton of flexibility and yet still have a very solid core.

Don't forget that when they won their last cup there were 5 players making 5mil or more.

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#152 DSF
September 19 2013, 10:15PM
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pkam wrote:

Not sure how with your arguments you can come up with the conclusion that the Oilers window to win a cup will be very soon and very short.

Not saying I agree with your cap projection, but assuming you are correct, the Oilers will have a cap problem in 2015/16. But salary should go up after 2015/16 so our situation will improve with all the long term contracts. If we don't have enough cap space to sign another 11 players in 2015/16, we should be able to in 16/17 or 17/18 with the increase in salary cap and no increase in our long term contracts. So I don't understand why our window is very soon and short.

Another argument is many teams will have cap problem in 2015/16, and most of them will likely be worse than our situation. When there is not enough HRR to provide a higher cap, teams will have less money to sign their players and players will have to lower their asking price to get a contract. So 3rd and 4th line UFA will be more affordable.

Which teams?

Be specific.

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#153 DSF
September 19 2013, 10:31PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

You think that 22 year old shooting percentage over 48 games is going to last?

No, I don't either.

That's almost as unsustainable as a player who scores most of his points on the PP and can't score on the road.

Hopkins scored only 2 goals and 13 points at evens last season.

Kadri scored 13 goals and 36 points at evens.

Kadri scored 25 points on the road last season.

Hopkins scored 15.

Hopkins had 3:03 PPTOI/G last season.

Kadri was 2:12.

Conclusion:

Hopkins is a PP specialist who can be shut down on the road.

Kadri is a PPG player at evens and scored more points on the road than at home.

Go figure.

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#154 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
September 20 2013, 06:19AM
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The future best line in the NHL is now locked up for years at $6 million each. I think we can finally come up with a nickname for this line.

"The six million dollar men" "The Steve Austin Trio" "The bionic 3"

Bionic eye - Nuge with his sublime vision Bionic legs - Hall with his killer speed Bionic right arm - Eberle and his deadly shot.

And with two shoulder surgeries...."gentlemen, we can rebuild them..."

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#155 LoweBlow
September 20 2013, 10:44AM
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Even if Yak signs for $6mil, Schultz Jr & Dub'er for $5mil, that's 34 committed to the core: Ebs/Hall/Nuge/Yak/Schultz/Dub'er. That's no diffferent than Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Vancouver....

I have the impression that those getting worked up over the dollar amount are short-sighted. This kid will be worth it, all roads point to hardware for this kid.

Hall bounced back after the identical procedure and was in the top 10. I don't know if Nuge is that talented, but if he's anywhere close, $6mil per is worth it.

I'd even say that now Hall at $6mil/yr is a stunning discount. We'll be saying this about Nuge soon.

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#156 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 20 2013, 11:08AM
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I think if there's any argument to be made that the Oilers are in cap trouble, it's in the bottom 6 rather than the top 6.

Getting the top 3 players signed for a cap hit of 18mil I think is probably the easiest part of this whole situation. The challenge may be to find value in the bottom 6 like Shero and Bowman have. Their Stanley Cup winning teams didn't follow a "superstar top-6/AHL bottom-6" format.

Pittsburgh and Chicago owe at least a little of their success to the fact that they had guys like Staal and Ladd playing on their respective third lines on value contracts.

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#157 Oiler Al
September 20 2013, 11:36AM
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DSF wrote:

Try and look farther than the end of your nose.

Detroit will have almost $19M in free cap space going into the 2014/15 season with all their core players locked up.

DSF, are you including Detroits players old age pension in the Cap calculation?

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#158 DSF
September 19 2013, 03:57PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"Also worth noting that Hopkins is NOT Crosby. Hall is NOT Malkin and Eberle is NOT James Neal."

What's the cap hit difference for those players in 15/16?

5.2M

But the Oilers are not the Penguins, not even close, and the Penguins can't seem to win a cup having their team so top heavy in salaries.

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#159 DSF
September 19 2013, 04:02PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Not to jump on you, but did you not make the almost exact argument for the Minnesota Wild?

IIRC you argued a lot that the cap will go up at more than the rate you mentioned above.

I may be wrong, but I’m not sure that I am? However, I am too lazy to go looking up a rather pointless disagreement.

It is somewhat of an issue for the Wild but they (once Heatley is gone) will only have 3 players making more than $5M.

If Schultz and Yakupov get what I expect they will, the Oilers will have 5 players north of $5M with Gagner almost there at $4.8M.

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#160 DSF
September 19 2013, 04:18PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"more than 5M" is an interesting world of possibility for the Wild.

Thing is, the Wild are paying 3 elite players with an established record of success that kind of money.

And even with Heatley's boat anchor contract on the books are only the 23rd highest spending team in the league with $3.75M in cap space this season.

The Oilers are already the 10th highest payroll team in the league BEFORE the Hopkins, Schultz, Yakupov and Petry deals.

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#161 DSF
September 19 2013, 04:33PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Okay, let's assume your numbers are all right - $66MM salary cap, the money for Schultz and Petry too.

Here's the roster:

  • Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Yakuopv
  • Perron - Gagner - Eberle
  • ??? - Gordon - ???
  • ??? - ??? - ???
  • Smid - Schultz
  • Ference - Petry
  • Nurse - Klefbom
  • Dubnyk

So, that leaves you with the need to find two bottom-nine wingers, a fourth line and 13th forward, a seventh defenceman and a backup goalie. The total cost above is $57.9 million by my count, so you have 8.1 million for those eight pieces.

If Gernat or Musil can play seventh D, that's 900K and the defence is taken care of. Add in a LaBarbera equivalent for the backup at $1.0MM (or do what Carolina did and bring in a Khudobin-type for less). That leaves you ~6.2 million for the last six forwards on the roster, which seems totally doable.

Of course it's "doable" if you have the right players at the right price to plug into those spots and IF you can win a cup that way.

I would think the two 3rd line wingers are likely to run you at least $2.0M each if they are any good, so that leaves you with $1.2M for the last 3 forward spots.

If you look at Detroit as a contending but not championship team, their 4th line is currently:

Nyquist ($950K ELC)

Helm ($2.1M)

Tootoo ($1.9M)

Because Detroit only has 3 (Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Howard) making more than $5M in 2014/15, they have a ton of flexibility and yet still have a very solid core.

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#162 DSF
September 19 2013, 04:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

DSF wrote:

Thing is, the Wild are paying 3 elite players with an established record of success that kind of money.

Best seasons in terms of points-per-game:

  • Zach Parise: 1.15
  • Taylor Hall: 1.11
  • Jordan Eberle: 0.97
  • Mikko Koivu: 0.89
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 0.84

So, to recap: Taylor Hall is 21 years old and he's already in the ballpark of 29-year-old Zach Parise's best season. Parise makes $1.5 million more per year and the tail end of his contract is a cap recapture nightmare. Meanwhile, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at age 20 has already basically matched 30-year-old Mikko Koivu's best-ever offensive season. The Wild are paying big money to some very good players who are past their prime years of production (historically around age 25). The Oilers are paying less money to players with better/even production just entering their prime.

Jon, you know as well as I do that there is more than posting scoring numbers to winning hockey games.

Koivu, for example, is an elite two way centre and Parise is the same.

I notice you didn't mention Suter in your boxcar comparison.

I agree those long contracts will be a nightmare for the Wild in another 5 years or so, but that's an entirely different issue.

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#163 mk
September 19 2013, 09:37PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Wrong. The claim was that these deals were pieces in building a dynasty like the Blackhawks. My argument was that (irrespective of whether they achieve some sort of dynasty) the Oilers won't achieve the same things as the Hawks did.

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#164 DSF
September 19 2013, 10:05PM
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CaptainLander wrote:

DSF's argument is that they will have issues meeting a cap that will not increase, and that the Oil sign Yak and Schultz to similar contracts. Why not a bridge contract? Say 2 years, would that not by the Oil the time to allow the cap to increase? Or any number of possible scenarios. Stick to your perfect record of hindsight Oil bashing predictions and avoid the future ones. Any team in the league would have given the Nuge that contract if they could.

Would they?

There is a pretty strong argument that Kadri is at least as good as Hopkins.

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#165 DSF
September 19 2013, 10:14PM
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Racki wrote:

Detroit's "tonne of flexibility" is also the team that has the highest cap in the NHL.

Try and look farther than the end of your nose.

Detroit will have almost $19M in free cap space going into the 2014/15 season with all their core players locked up.

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#166 Woogie63
September 19 2013, 11:02PM
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Wow this is a long term for a player coming off a bad year. Two injury in two years....i think RNH was 142 in league scoring last year.

It feels like a little to fast to tie up that much term when you could have taken 40 or 80 games to understand if want to be "married" for the next 560 games.

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#167 pkam
September 20 2013, 10:32AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

You only use bridge contracts for guys that you are unsure about, in terms of their numbers regressing to the mean or maturity issues. PK Subban, obviously all of the talent in the world, it didn't surprise me to see him win the Norris. But all of that could have easily unhinged for him. Lack of discipline in his game and off the ice could have made him a lesser player.

Dion Phaneuf should have been signed to a bridge contract. He just wasn't ready for it. Money got to his head. Dramatic exit from Calgary where he supposedly got into a fist fight with Iginla. Underperformed his contract for a few years and then finally pulled it together the last year or two.

Another reason is you don't have enough salary cap so you have to delay the signing by a year or 2 until the cap goes up or some contracts expire.

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#168 pkam
September 20 2013, 10:49AM
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@They're $hittie

Evander Kane is signed for 5.25M and Skinner is signed for 5.725M.

So you are telling me Eberle is only as good as Evander Kane and no as good as Skinner?

If you really want to argue that Eberle should not get what Hall gets, the difference is very small, not 700K. And I can argue that Eberle should be better Skinner and deserve that 6M but we can a deal from Hall.

And don't forget, Hall gets 3.75M in his ELC, but Eberle only gets 1.16M yet he has been the better player in the 1st 2 years of their ELC, so we just compensate it in this contract.

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#169 pkam
September 20 2013, 10:55AM
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LoweBlow wrote:

Even if Yak signs for $6mil, Schultz Jr & Dub'er for $5mil, that's 34 committed to the core: Ebs/Hall/Nuge/Yak/Schultz/Dub'er. That's no diffferent than Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Vancouver....

I have the impression that those getting worked up over the dollar amount are short-sighted. This kid will be worth it, all roads point to hardware for this kid.

Hall bounced back after the identical procedure and was in the top 10. I don't know if Nuge is that talented, but if he's anywhere close, $6mil per is worth it.

I'd even say that now Hall at $6mil/yr is a stunning discount. We'll be saying this about Nuge soon.

I am not sure if J. Schultz will get 6M, but definitely more than 5M. Can't imagine his agent will agree to less than the 5.14M that Bogosian gets.

And I believe Dubnyk will be looking at something around 5.3M which Howard gets.

My bet, around 11M for the 2.

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#170 Will
September 20 2013, 11:13AM
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I love being an arm chair GM, and I love hearing everyone else's strategies as well. But one thing I never understand amongst our group is the argument that a player is overpaid. In my opinion, the only time a player is overpaid is when it impedes the GM from acquiring the necessary talent to build a cup winning team. That is the only bad contract.

For example, Luongo was a bad contract because it impeded Gillis' ability to trade him for any sort of return, thus causing Schnidergate. Kovalchuck was another bad contract because it meant for half a season the devils could only dress 16 players to stay under the cap.

On the flip side, Dipietro and Horcoff are not bad contracts. They are stupid contracts, but they never impeded the team's ability to acquire talent, other things did that. Plus Mac T was able to trade Horcoff. I kind of wish the NHL would go back to the old way and not release player salaries.

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#171 They're $hittie
September 20 2013, 11:31AM
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pkam wrote:

Evander Kane is signed for 5.25M and Skinner is signed for 5.725M.

So you are telling me Eberle is only as good as Evander Kane and no as good as Skinner?

If you really want to argue that Eberle should not get what Hall gets, the difference is very small, not 700K. And I can argue that Eberle should be better Skinner and deserve that 6M but we can a deal from Hall.

And don't forget, Hall gets 3.75M in his ELC, but Eberle only gets 1.16M yet he has been the better player in the 1st 2 years of their ELC, so we just compensate it in this contract.

Does not mean I like Skinners contract. And If you dont think there is a 700k difference between Hall and Eberle you are not watching the game. Yes Evander Kane is debate-ably as good as Eberle. Keep in mind Kane is the best player on his line. Eberle is the third.

Yes pay them fairly, but if you want a dynasty or even a cup we need to get deals on contracts. Why would anyone be happy about paying more for a player than we need to. Just because you like them? Stupid reason.

Oilers had leverage in every deal hear with the young core except Gagner, yet they did not use it. Halls deal will be great, Nuge should cover the bet, but I dont think Eberle will, especially as he starts splitting ice time with Yakupov.

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#172 Will
September 20 2013, 01:34PM
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I'm sure this has been mentioned on here somewhere before but if, as everyone predicts, the salary cap not only goes up, but actually sky rockets in the coming years (say above 74 mill in 4 years), then these contracts are simply genius. The type of team they will be able to build with their major stars locked in long term at relatively low amounts compared to the cap, will be insane. I think we're seeing the third way to build a dynasty, and that is playing the cap stock.

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#173 Leafsblow
September 20 2013, 03:21PM
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@Racki

May be wrong Raki but pretty sure phi needs Giroux and his 10 mill salary included.

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#174 Spoils
September 20 2013, 03:49PM
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pkam wrote:

Why should we rip off our players instead of sign them to fair market value?

Did Crosby and Malkin take a pay cut? Did Kane and Toews take a pay cut? Did Kopitar and Doughty take a pay cut?

If the Canucks get so many pay cut from their players, why the teams I list above all won the cup in the last 5 years and all the Canucks get is swept in the 1st round?

I like your thoughts, - winners don't paint themselves into a box where they have to go hat in hand... but maybe that is because those winners haven't been such legendary losers that they have a bag of good low first rounders (ebs, gags) 3 first overalls in a row, an unprecedented young free agent signing (schultzy), a World Junior first team all-star (kelf) and a #7 pick that looks like "a young larry robinson"... IF they all pan out it would be a tragedy to have the salary cap eff it up.

and hey if the guys win some cups the money they would give up in a some sort of pay cut scheme will come back and then some.

oh, and the world will see great hockey... and they will have stanley cupS.

I wouldn't know, but I like to think an extra million to a millionaire is not as important as creating something truly beautiful.

damn the kool-aid is good these days.

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