WWYDW: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a Nashville defenceman


It’s been a while since we’ve looked at a hypothetical trade here on What Would You Do Wednesday, so let’s try a somewhat plausible one.

Nashville needs a top centre, and Edmonton needs help on the right side of its defence. These are dots that have been connected over and over again by fans and media alike who follow the Oilers. Is there a trade to be made there?

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins


I made the case a month ago against Edmonton dealing Nugent-Hopkins. The whole piece is here, but basically it boiled down to the following points:

  • Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are awfully inexperienced.
  • Nugent-Hopkins was once in the same honeymoon phase of his career that Draisaitl is in now.
  • Nugent-Hopkins is a more defensively accomplished player than McDavid or Draisaitl.
  • It’s awfully nice to have three good centres.

If a trade involving an Edmonton centre is made, however, Nugent-Hopkins is the most plausible candidate. McDavid, obviously, is untouchable, and the 20-year-old Draisaitl brings size and much of the same raw defensive material that Nugent-Hopkins brought when he was at the same stage of his career. Draisaitl is also closer in age to McDavid, who is now the centerpiece of the franchise.

Nashville’s Right-Shooting Options

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Shea Weber. Weber has been the dream for Oilers fans for years now, and it’s easy to see why. He does everything. He’s big and mean, a quality passer with a wicked shot, and he’s generally regarded as an elite two-way defenceman.

However, he also turns 31 in August. His $110-million contract runs through 2026 (age 41) at a cap hit of $7.86 million. In the prime of McDavid’s career, he’ll be at roughly the same point that Zdeno Chara is right now. Finally, unlike Chara he hasn’t been a dominant puck possession player the last few years; he plays brutally tough minutes but it’s worth noting that his numbers in that department have taken a hit over the last two seasons.

Seth Jones. Jones isn’t the no-questions-asked elite No. 1 defenceman Edmonton wants, but the potential is there. The 6’4”, 208-pound rearguard was the No. 4 pick in the 2013 Draft, and combines that size with exceptional speed and hockey sense. Red Line Report projected him as a “#1, franchise cornerstone defenceman” in his draft year and compared him to Chris Pronger.

The 21-year-old isn’t there yet, though:

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The risk in trading for potential is of course that it’s just potential. Jones has great potential, but he isn’t yet as proven as Nugent-Hopkins.

Ryan Ellis. Ellis isn’t in the same category as Weber or Jones in terms of value, but he’d be a nice fit for Edmonton. He’s been one of the league’s best offensive defenceman in terms of five-on-five points/hour for years now, though he has yet to be promoted to the first unit power play (Weber, Roman Josi). He’s not big (5’10”, 180 pounds) but he’s a good player and only Josi and Weber get more ice time in Nashville.

The other player Oilers fans might be interested in is Roman Josi, but he’s a left shot defenceman and frankly Edmonton already has too many of those players. Between Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Griffin Reinhart and virtually every prospect in the system, that position is filled. The move now is to find a right-side option who can mesh with that group.

Making a Deal

Peter Chiarelli3

Is there a deal there worth making?

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From my vantage point, all three players are of interest. Weber would be a big help in the here-and-now, but his age makes him a bad fit for the McDavid cluster and I’m a little worried about how his on-ice shot numbers have moved over the last couple of years. As difficult as it is to say, I think it would be a mistake to trade a centre still on the upswing of his career for a defenceman in his 30’s given the age of the core of the team.

Jones isn’t proven, and I’d like to go back and watch him play a bunch before committing to a move like this one, but if he is what I think he is, I’d make that trade. In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes I wouldn’t like the idea of parting with Nugent-Hopkins, but Jones is a fantastic fit in terms of age and ability for Edmonton’s core and to get that player a good player has to be on the way out. I doubt Nashville does that deal, particularly because the Predators are a small-market team and they can control Jones’ cost to a degree, but you never know.

Ellis is a fascinating player. He’s not worth Nugent-Hopkins, but if the Predators ever did decide to move him he’d be a fantastic partner for any of Edmonton’s big left-side defencemen.

As always, though, the point of What Would You Do Wednesday is to ask what our readers would do. So, dear readers: What would you do?


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  • hagar

    By 25 you know what the full term prospectus is likely to encompass and it is easier to make decisions or non-decisions.

    Nuge is not old enough to be valuated in terms of trade bait.

    How old are Hall and Ebbs? Both are maxed right now,and if you leave Ebbs where he is in the process being used he will simply continue to de-value,Hall has had the red carpet minute treatment since day one and we have seen him be about a PPG player,which my have him 4th in NHL scoring but it is nowhere near what he should be producing it is far under his ceiling if he is used properly and if his line manager can support him properly by scoring a lot of goals,more than Taylor in fact.

    So to me in terms of what they can do for the Oilers these two are oldest and have maxed out in this situation,if we CANNOT or WILL NOT make process adjustments to support and optimise these assets so they can produce more we need to admit we dont have the highest level of acumen and begin moving them.

    The Oilers have 6-7 guys who could put up Halls numbers if supported like he has been for as long as he has been Gravy Trained.

    Early in…Early out.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    I wouldn’t trade Nuge unless the offer was exceptional.

    He’s a talented, character player who plays well at both ends of the ice.

    Whether he plays at wing or at center in the future, I think he’ll be a great contributor to the team.

    There are plenty of “soft” players on the Oilers I would trade way before Nuge, namely Eberle and Schultz.

    No team in the NHL is going to trade you a great young number one Dman anyhow. Maybe an aging one in a salary dump. Just wait a couple of years and you may be able to get Weber for a song.

    The Oilers are either going to have to aquire a top Dman through free agency or smart drafting.

    That’s all there is to it, although we can dream all we want.

    • Oilers4Ever

      Yep it’s always “wait and see how things play out” with this team. This is the mantra we’ve been hearing for the past 10 years. Oh no don’t trade anyone in case he ends up being a superstar. The oilers are pathetically notorious for over valuing their players.

  • Anton CP

    As others have pointed out already, Nashville almost has to move a D. Ekholm’s extension kicks in next year at $3.75 per, and Jones is going to command something in that range. They also have Forsberg to pay as an RFA. Nashville is too savvy to have their 4th or 5th D-man make $4MM (a memo MacT apparently never got) so somebody has to go.

    Ellis has a nice value deal which would suggest he’s the one they won’t move. Josi is also a decent value for a top pair guy, so that suggests Jones and Weber are on the ones that would have to go.

    Does it make sense to a cash-strapped Nashville to accept Nuge at $6MM? Only if Weber is coming back. Nugey is then too much IMO for Jones.

    But those aren’t the only options. Nashville has a good goalie pipeline, the Oil have guys like Teddy to throw in – I feel like there’s a match here somewhere…

  • For Pete's Sake!

    I would still look at moving one of our top three centers to the wing, and trade a winger. Wingers are much easier to find then Centers or D-Men.

    Reinhart deal looks worse everyday, as I watch the world juniors.

  • rnj



    One of the best top 6 in the league.

    People against trading RNH / Ebs – no one is saying they aren’t good. That they are good is why you trade them.

    “But injuries and depth!” -> Great point, an entire forward line was injured and we went on a streak not seen in decades. A couple dmen go down and we’re on a slide. Which position has more of a depth issue?

    $12M in cap and top line skill on a third line doesn’t make sense.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      I am a big fan of Yakupov but I don’t think he is the guy for McDavid . Eberle is a finisher and I don’t think Yak is to the same extent . Eberle gets 40 in s full season with McDavid

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        Please explain how Yak is better? Where is his production. Don’t confuse desire and hard work for a top line winger. Production has to come. He hasn’t proven much to me. Even with McDavid he only had 2 goals

  • CMG30

    Your previous article refers. Sam Gagner was seen as the ‘can’t miss’ centre in his draft year. The Oil thought, wrongly so, that the new NHL would favor the small, skilled and soft players and teams. The Oil gm and scouts bought that piece of brain-candy and built their organization accordingly. So a decade hence they are still suffering the resulting damage. Gagner was waived this week and was passed up by 30 NHL teams just 8 yrs into his (ahem) career.

    Role these facts forward to today. RNH is a better player than Gagner by far. My concern is that very early in his career teams have got his act figured out. They hit him at every opportunity. They check his ass into the ice. They pressure him immediately on the PP so he has no time or space to pick the opposition D
    apart. No more cross ice seam passes to Eberle. They are very rare now. His game is becoming very well known along with his tendancies and weaknesses. IMO his upside has slowed way the hell down.

    Because the opposition have figured him out they have basically rendered his sister next to useless. Eberle relies on RNH’s game to get his stats. Keeping a small soft player at centre is a denial of the inevitable. I think his value is slipping even now. Move him plus something else for that D man. Small, speedy talented forwards do exist in the NHL, like Gaudreau for example, but RNH ain’t one of them nor is he likely to be.

  • Axeman33

    No way they trade RNH for Ellis. Poile has already said he doesn’t want to trade his “big 3” (Weber/Jones/Josi) so I don’t think there’s a trade here.

    I dont see Chiarelli dealing RNH for anything less than one of the big 3.

    Hasn’t this rumour been bouncing around for a while now????

      • Serious Gord

        NHL top 60 has Josi#9 ,Weber #12 , Sekara -#40 , Ellis -#54 , Klefbom -#60 , Hamonic below Seth Jones who also is not in top 60 . No one is going to give us a first overall pick for Sekara or Klefbom , so why should we entertain doing so unless it is a talent like Weber or Josi to begin with ? Most people on ON want to offer far more than those clubs could ever expect to get .

  • Serious Gord

    I’d keep hall, drai, McDavid for sure. Nugent is next to keep but I’d consider it. Everyone else on forward I would not think twice about trading.

      • hagar

        Exactly exactly!

        Why not use the one thing the league covets beyond Mcdavid, Hall and Nurse?

        There have been total blockbuster trades of past that gave teams multi year first round picks. The entire league thinks we are a joke, and that we will be picking top five for years to come..

        Our first round draft picks as trade bait hold the same value to other teams as basically a Leon or Nurse..

        When you think you are getting three top ten picks at the draft in a row, and you know you can afford to trade someone really important for that, it might make sense!

        We look at Nuge getting half a number one dman, but what happens when we send Nuge to the preds along with our next two first round picks? NOW you are talking serious trade value, AND you are getting immediate return to use now!!

        We don’t need first round picks for the next couple years, this team is built to not need them. All the golden goose eggs have been laid already, and now it’s time to cash them in for pancakes.

  • Serious Gord

    Unless there is design for Leon to play on the wing, then Nuge becomes a bit of over kill for a third line center, thus making him the odd man out.

    Nuge and Davidson to Nashv. for Josi and prospect center coming back. [ I know Josi is a lefty, but going for Jones would only duplicate what we have in Nurse. ]

    I think in a year Nurse will be a better than Jones anyway.

    But having said all this I have my doubts Poile would probably only move Ellis of the bunch. Not a player the Oilers need, certainly not if Nuge is in the deal.

  • CMG30

    Trade RNH? Maybe. But not this year. You absolutely cannot run an NHL team with your top 2 centers having less than 100 games experience between them.

    I get the desire to fix the abysmal defense, but trading RNH exposes McDavid AND Drisitle to unacceptable levels of competition. I do realize that this would be keeping with the Oiler tradition of throwing rookies into the deep end then holding their heads underwater, but stopping that nonsense would seem to be one of the reasons Chirelli was brought in.

    The idea of a trade for Weber, was attractive 4 years ago. At this point it has to be a no. No matter how frustrating it’s been this season to watch this pile of pylons on the back end flounder around ignoring assignments, it’s absolutely not worth hamstringing this team with an 8 million cap hit for the next DECADE just for a short term improvement.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    You can’t trade Nuge now with two rookie C but what if Edmonton is clearly out of the playoffs close to the trade deadline. Does it really matter at that point?

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    At this point I’d be surprised if Jultz has any value, even a late round pick…. I think Chia just signed him for this year as due diligence to not lose someone for nothing before seeing him play…. I hope anyways, if he’s on the team next year I’d want Chia gone. Please tell me Chia is not Lowe’s puppet, I don’t think he is, but It scares me how much ice time jultz gets, maybe someone writes a tell all book some day or somehow it all makes sense

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t care where they get a D or what his handedness is. Get whatever D you can from whatever team you can to make the oilers better.

  • Anton CP

    Trading Nuge? Are you nuts?

    Remember what kind of C that the Oilers have for the past few seasons? Arcobello was the second line C just 2 years ago. Move a C to W is a lot easier than move a W to C, Eakins tried 2 years ago with Hall and failed horribly. I don’t think Lander’s performance and Yakimov’s departure will be helping down the center.

    Also, if Preds are going to move anyone from their bluelines then it will only be Weber. They will not move Jones simply for his upside and age, Ellis also has a relatively cheap contract with only 2.5m cap hit. Preds need to extend Forsberg and Jones this up coming season and they will like to clear some room by moving Weber along with his 7.8m cap hit.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Jim Matheson wrote in The Journal today that Nashville would want either Darnell Nurse or Oskar Klefbom in a package with Nuge for Shea Weber.

    Do you see now why it’s damn near impossible for the Oilers to make fair deal for an established top pairing defenseman? We’re always dealing from a position of weakness.

    I say let our good young defensemen, i.e. Nurse, Klefbom and Davidson, continue to develop here. Don’t panic and make a desperation trade that will come back to haunt us later.

    Us fans are just going to have to be more patient much as that’s almost impossible to bear with this team, bad as they’ve been for so long.

    The fact of the matter is though, that when these young Dmen get some experience, they are eventually going to be the core of a good defense.

    • camdog

      I believe that PC is going to have to be patient with the defence, however I don’t see him being patient with the forward group. Maybe Kassian works but if he doesn’t they need to find some size for the top 9.

    • For Pete's Sake!

      I don’t think anyone thinks RNH (or any tradeable player other than possibly Hall) is likely land a true #1 Dman, but that shouldn’t make anyone untouchable.

      If the strategy is to hope and wait for Klefblom and Nurse to develop to top level Dmen, the event horizon is 2 to 3 year from now, if it ever happens. At that tie Hall would have 2 years left until he is a UFA. The clock is ticking.

      • For Pete's Sake!

        Yes, the clock is ticking, but it is on Weber’s usefulness as well. His game is already starting to decline.

        How many more good years has he got left in him?

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          I agree that Weber is probably not the rights guy due to his age and a contract that will become a problem in future years. But that doesn’t mean the only other option is to wait and hope.

        • Anton CP

          The truth be known, you could probably get Weber for Gazdik, straight up:

          His outstanding contract is still $54 million dollars, which expires when he is 40 years old in 2027.His balance on his $68 million signing bonus is $16 mil. alone , payable over next two years.

          Cap hit is $7.8 million until 2027. Right now his salary is $1mil. per year, but changes in a couple years to $6 and the think its $4 mil for a couple of years .

          You want pay a declining 36 yr old D-man $6 mil with almost $8 mil cap hit to age 40?

          PS. Still a very good D man, but me thinks Josi is propping him up more than we think.

          • Copperking

            This is asinine on so many levels it’s insane. Weber is still very very good and will be for some time based on current and past events, if you think otherwise i don’t know what to tell you. Weber won’t be given away for cheap as the cap recapture for Nashville could be crippling. The cap will likely continue to go up, in 10 years 8 million is going to be like 5 million now at worst. Weber is an excellent player and if he’s avaliable there will be a ton of teams willing to part with excellent packages not just bottom of the roster plugs or made up players like “Gazdik”.

    • Oilers4ever

      Agreed. As much as the patience thing sucks around here we know Leon can play wing. I’d rather have RNH centre those two and Mcdavid with Yak and Pouliot (sorry but Ebs to me is the guy you trade) than losing Nuge because Weber to me isn’t the answer.

      As has already been stated he’ll be too old when we need him to be 28-30. Not sure who you package with Ebs to get a 2nd pairing right dman. I don’t think you’ll get a number one guy no matter who you package with him that’s sensible.

      And then get Lucic for next year to play with Mcdavid and someone. I’d also be finding a way to trade Yak for something. Sorry… Not sold on him ever panning out.

  • camdog

    The same numbers used to state that Sam Gagner was a number 2 centre are now being used to suggest that RnH is a number one centre. Of course RnH is no Sam Gagner, he most definitely a top 6 forward in this league, however as the coach suggests, he reminds him of a player that he moved to the wing nearly a decade ago.

    The Oiler top 5 players right now in respect to importance are McDavid, Hall, LD, Klefbomb and Nurse.

    If the Oilers were to get 1 or 2 in the lottery that player would jump into the top 5 in importance to the team immediately, maybe the top 3. The pick isn’t moveable until the off season.

    People may not like this but if the Oilers were to make a big trade to shake the team up they have 3 main options, the #1 pick, Eberle and RnH. I myself believe that if they trade a forward it will be for a bigger forward, not a d-man.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    Some things really baffle me.

    Nashville is supposedly a team that is desperate for offense. They are seen by the masses as a good defensive team and a mediocre offensive team.

    The Oilers, on the other hand, are a poor defensive team yet viewed as a highly talented offensive club.

    Believe it or not, the Predators have scored more goals than the Oilers this season.

    How, if at all, does this impact on potential trades between the two teams?

  • Serious Gord

    What about trading for Big Buff?

    Maybe Yakupov and some conditional picks for Byfuglien and Burmistirov.

    If we resign Buff then the jets get 3 picks over 3 years spread over the first/second/third rounds type of thing.

    Worst that happens is we trade Yak for Burm and 3 months of leadership from Buff. Best case we get a long term number one RD and a utility center allowing us to play RNH in the top 6.



  • For Pete's Sake!

    I agree with your reasons not to trade Nuge. I don’t want to trade him either. But how else do we get a defensemen? We have to make some sacrifices and risks.