Nugent-Hopkins Non-Starter

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I don’t really believe in untouchable players. If the right deal comes along, any player is moveable.

But it has to be the right deal, and I don’t think there’s one out there involving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Speculation

Craig MacTavish2

On Monday, Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer asked guest Jim Matheson if he’d be open to a trade that would send one of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Taylor Hall, plus Jeff Petry, plus the Oilers’ 2014 first round draft pick, to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber.

Our own Robin Brownlee wrote his take here, saying he’d make that deal but preferably with Hall rather than Nugent-Hopkins. Matheson provided his own write-up a day later, one with a little more ambiguity, but seemed to indicate that he’d be willing to consider that deal too.

In Craig MacTavish’s shoes, I wouldn’t make that deal with Nugent-Hopkins. For that matter, I wouldn’t make any deal that involved sending Nugent-Hopkins away for a top defenceman.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

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Trades should address areas of weakness from areas of strength. Failing that, they should address hard-to-fix areas of weakness from easier-to-fix areas of weakness.

That isn’t what’s being discussed in the speculation above. The proposed deal involves blowing a massive hole in the Oilers’ centre ice depth chart in exchange for patching the massive hole in their defensive depth chart. That isn’t progress; that’s trading one problem for another.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. At least on defence, the organization has some internal candidates. Darnell Nurse is a blue chip prospect. Martin Marincin’s been exceptional as a rookie. Oscar Klefbom and Martin Gernat and Dillon Simpson are all waiting in the wings. These guys are all some distance away and none may ever be the equal of Weber, but there’s room for growth here.

At centre? Who can replace Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Sam Gagner’s not the answer, and with all due respect to Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander, neither of them is ever likely to even approximate what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be at the peak of his career. There’s nobody else in the system, and if that wasn’t enough the proposed deal would send away Edmonton’s 2014 first round pick, which would be the team’s only realistic place to find a replacement for Nugent-Hopkins. Maybe fans here are resigned to drafting Connor McDavid next year, but it’s not going to get any easier for the Oilers to put distance between themselves and the bottom of the league if they stay there another season.

Nugent-Hopkins is scoring at a 60-point pace in a power-vs.-power role at the age of 20; he’s already a first line pivot and he’s probably three-to-five years away from hitting his peak level of performance. The player he’s going to become is extremely difficult to find; the No. 1 centre tree is as non-existent as the No. 1 defenceman tree.

Deals!

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There is no Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade that makes sense for the Oilers that doesn’t include a first line centre coming back the other way.

Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov can be moved in the right deal because the Oilers have both of them. In a perfect world, they’re both kept, but it isn’t insanity to try and patch holes elsewhere from a strong right wing depth chart. There’s less of a case to trade Hall, who is the best forward on the team today, but left wing is less critical than centre or defence and Edmonton has the option of moving Yakupov over and some depth there in the person of David Perron.

What about that 2014 first round pick? Sure, that’s a possibility too. The Oilers will get a good young player if they draft there, and a team can never have enough good young players, but in the right deal trading a draft pick like that isn’t going to hurt Edmonton’s already paper thin NHL depth chart.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I have said this in arguments before of course usually involving a trade to get Weber. It seems there is a extreme focus on Weber as the target to fix this teams D issues. Why i ask?? There are 29 other teams in this league of which there are likely a solid 15-20 1st pairing D that are phenomenal at their position. Now after spending the last 7 craptastic years acquiring assets i.e. Yak, Hall, Nuge…. whats the point in trading for a fix only to open up a gaping problem some where else.

    Mmmmmmmaybe if we had an actual 2nd line C i could see it somehow working out to improve the team. But Nuge is THE only 1st and 2nd line center this team has. Gagner is a joke at the 2C position. So good luck with Weber on the back end and Gagner as your 1C with Boyd as your 2C. Sounds like the same game plan as the Nashville Predators if you ask me?

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    All I know is this team better stop being so pathetic. They’re worse than bad, and they better do somthing to figure it out. Enough is enough. Either turn this thing around or get new guys at the helm. No more waiting no more excuses

  • what everyone seems to think is this is a fair deal. anyone who wants weber better pony up. On that note, it’s a sad pipe dream, because you’re not getting him without giving up one of Hall or RNH. And those are the two guys I would never give up on.

  • “Actually, it’s even worse than that. At least on defence, the organization has some internal candidates. Darnell Nurse is a blue chip prospect. Martin Marincin’s been exceptional as a rookie. Oscar Klefbom and Martin Gernat and Dillon Simpson are all waiting in the wings. These guys are all some distance away and none may ever be the equal of Weber, but there’s room for growth here.” -JW

    JW, in ’06, nashville had zidlicky, hamhuis, AND timmonen. I challenge any blue chip defenceman not to reach all start status with that blueline.

    How are marincin, klefbom, gernat, and simpson going to get any better playing beside what we have now? There’s a very good reason suter and weber are the players they are today.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Bracken Kearns put on waivers by the Sharks. Should the Oilers have any intrest in claiming him off waivers? How many open roster spots / contract spots do we have? One? Two?

  • Spoils

    I really want to win with our current core crew. How much fun would it be to see Yak and Ebs lift the cup. After all this BS and losing, could anything be better?

  • Spoils

    maybe it works like this… apologies for including Ekblad in this, but if we are looking 3-5years for Nuge to peak you could make an argument for Nurse, Schultz, Klefbom, and Ekblad being a sufficient core with Nuge, Hall, Ebs, Yak at their peak – win multiple cups.

    Man does that make for a tough next 2 years.

    On the flip side, the Avs traded all 3 of their first overalls prior to winning.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Spoils has it right. The evidence strongly suggests that Oilers Management has already made the decision to build through the draft and are prepared to keep the young core, augment the roster on the periphery, and wait for the young D prospects to mature.

      Generalized timeline for a cup contender is 4 to 5 years from now.

    • Dan 1919

      If only it were that easy; external factors will crumble the team long before all the d-men in the minors develop if that’s what management is counting on. These young guys say how happy they are now and that they still like being Oilers but they will start to ask for trades in the next few years if things don’t change. You cannot draft until you win the stanley cup, it’s just simply not that easy. They will need to make moves long before Darnell Nurse is a top dman in the NHL.

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Hey Dan….no one said that what they’re doing is right…..but it is what they’re doing.

        That’s not to say that they won’t make a move for an Errhoff or Brian Campbell or whoever….but their core strategy appears to be develop through the draft and contend 3 to 4 years from now.

  • Randaman

    Consider this. Would Detroit have considered trading Datsuyk when he was not yet fully developed? NO WAY! That is who I see As a comparison to Nuge. Any talk of trading him is plain stupidity. Hall is a smaller version of Messier. Do you trade that? NO! Anyone else is fair game. For reasonable return. Yes, that includes Eberle & Yak

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Randaman. I agree with you on the Nuge Datsuyk thing. And I get why you’re comparing Hall to Mess as they look similar in many ways. But, putting size aside, reality is that Messier was tough as nails right from the get go, by way of comparison at the same age, Hall is butter soft. You couldn’t knock Messier down, Hall just naturally falls down. There’s a reason why the Moose is a legend and a once in a generation type player.

      This no knock against Hall. It’s kinda like comparing RNH to Gretzky…there are similarities but it’s really not a fair comparison.

    • Until Hall plays with some nastiness and commands respect around the league, he should never have his name mentioned in the same sentence as Mark.

      In terms of value of our three 1st overalls – Nuge will likely have the most accomplished career. With the right kind of management I expect Yak to become one of the best Russians to play in the NHL.

      Hall is possibly the most immature of any 1st overall picks in a long time. Four years in the league and he’s constantly heard in sounds bites using the F-word and slamming his stick against the glass/boards. Taylor next time you get frustrated hit someone but get this other crap out of your game.

  • Why is everyone assuming Edmonton has to give up one of their best players to get a top pairing defenseman?

    When #1 defensemen move it is rarely for high end players, it is usually for packages of picks and prospects with 1 or 2 competent roster guys added.

    So why suddenly do they need to give up one of their best players? It doesn’t even make sense.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      You’re right Tiger, It doesn’t make sense. It’s just some BS strawman that Stauffer through out as a question on his show…saying you would HAVE to give up Hall or RNH in any package for Weber….next Brownlee creates the same strawman in an Oilers Nation article.

      Jim Matheson counters saying you don’t need to have Hall or RNH in any such deal. For example Eberle, J Schultz and picks would get it done if you so wanted.

      That’s where all this conversation started.

  • A-Mc

    A RW + Prospect not named Klef/Nurse + 2nd rnd pick, is the most i’d move for a defenseman. The only other option, depending on value, is using Gagner as part of it.

    Someone earlier made the point that Nashville couldnt win with BOTH Suter and Weber… These guys are great players but they do NOT instantly make your team unstoppable. For my money i’d buy a defenseman in the 2/3 range and avoid the #1’s if the cost is high.

  • The Last Big Bear

    oil need to trade to get the d thats needed. nows the time(deadline, draft or offseason). if not for weber then for someone whos a top pairing guy. i said it before and once again, with gags, yak, first rounder, prospects and one roster d (otherthan j schultz)should be a good enough bundle to land the dman that is needed! lets get it done. i will be dissappointed if september rolls around next season and we still dont have a top dman. if nothing pans out then worse case scenario draft ekblad. if first round pick doesnt include ekblad then trade that pick for more picks or for another piece of the puzzle that is needed for next season.

  • Bucknuck

    Untouchables (for me) are RNH, J. Schultz, and Hall. We’ve survived the growing pains with Schultz and I don’t want him to go before we (the Oil) reap the rewards. Hall is the heart of the team, and RNH is the 1st line pivot the team has needed since Weight left town.

    If you can’t get a 1st pairing defender with trading chips like Eberle, Yakupov, Petry, the high draft pick, and all those defensive prospects in the system, you need to get a new job.

  • Thumby

    Messier was my favorite player of all time, best I ever saw. Mark won championship others won individual awards.

    Presently we sit in 29th but I fear we’ll somehow finish 26th. A couple meaningless wins and miss drafting the guy we really need.

    Somehow the Oilers will re-sign Smyth, draft 5th and raise ticket prices making for another exciting NHL season ~

  • billythebullet

    RNH imho could be traded, Wayne Gretzky was. I do think it would have to be for another top line center coming the other way for it to work for Edmonton. Example, Nathan Mackinninon(sp?), or Tyler Seguin, but the reality is why would this ever need to happen? Hall and RNH won’t go anywhere unless the ask too.

  • billythebullet

    The mere suggestion that RNH could be involved in trade speculation send shivers up my spine.

    As you rightly pointed out JW……..unless there is a another first line centre coming the other way, this trade makes no sense.

    Unless your name is Jay Feester that is!

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    No way does RNH get traded. As important as a dominant #1 Dman is, a legitimate #1 centre is every bit as important. The Blackhawks have Keith but they also have Toews. The Bruins have Chara but they also have guys like Krejci and Bergeron. Look at the teams in our division. We’re already in tough going up against guys like Getzlaf, Kopitar and Thornton.

  • toprightcorner

    Funny how Colorado turned their team around in a couple of years and have a chance to go deep into the playoffs.. They too are shallow on defense, but you dont see their organization, trading off
    all their top young forwards to acquiire Weber etc.

    Its time Oilers stop chasing shinny beans, as its always their excuse as to why they cannot make the playoffs. Pittsburgh won two Stanely cups without a Weber on the back end.

    Not saying they dont need to fix the defense, but it dosnt have to happen with the shinest bean on the plant.

    Teams needs to learn to play defense on all 200 ft of ice by ALL players. Time for the Kids to grow up and play like men for a change, this is not longer junior hockey.

    • Rdubb

      I totally agree with you, we need a real coach to get the team to play defense. We have the offense, 1 or 2 Dmen (Weber or who ever it is) will not win games for this team.

  • The Last Big Bear

    This is my favorite post in this thread.

    You’re willing to admit that there’s a *risk* that RNH doesn’t become the best centreman in the NHL?

    I swear to god, my pee is going to turn blue after all the Kool-Aid in this thread.

    Hey, here’s a fun game: Go to other fan forums, and look for trade proposals where other teams are scheming to land RNH.

    Take your time, I’ll wait.

  • The Last Big Bear

    As far as I can see, pretty much all the Nashville fans on there who were willing to make a deal agreed that it would take Hall AND Nugent-Hopkins AND assets such as 1sts/Eberle/etc.

    Having Weber with no forwards makes you Nashville, but having forwards with no Weber makes you… well it makes you Edmonton. And nobody wants to be Edmonton, not even Edmonton.