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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Year of Nuge

With the Year of Nuge in full swing, and success flowing his way like the river of dreams, I’m going to take every opportunity I can to pump his tires and make you all realize how good this kid is. I’ve had to defend my boy at every turn, and I have to admit how beautiful it is to see him realizing his potential. 

As the sitting President of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club, I’ll admit that it’s been tough sledding around here for the past couple of years. My boy hasn’t had the best run in that time and I’ve had to defend him more times than I can count. “How can they pay him $6 million? He’s not worth that much,” they’d say. All I could do was try my best to remind everyone how good he already is at only 24 years old.

This year, the tides have turned and the Nuge bandwagon is filling up. As a long-time card carrying member, I have to say that I’ve never been more excited to have people seeing things the way I do. After Tuesday’s Golden Knights shit kicking, Todd McLellan was asked about what’s going on with Nuge and what he’s doing differently this year. The answer was not so much praise as a Hallmark card professing love for the former first overall pick.

“I think (the offence) has always been in him. I think that it was there last year. We saw it at the World Cup.”

The fact that Nuge can put up points shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone because he’s done it before. I mean, the guy was drafted first overall as a point producing centre. Has he been a point-per-game guy? No, but developing into a 60-point man is no slouch either. The part of the story that some folks are forgetting is how Nuge was so tired of giving up goals over the past few seasons that he put all his efforts into his two-way play to try and eliminate the goals against. How many other 20-something millionaires would do that?

“I really, really believed in this guy at the World Cup. He was excellent and I thought he was going to have a really big year. It didn’t quite go for him the way he wanted to.”

Oh man… Remember how fired up we all were after Nuge was lights out as a shutdown man at the World Cup? I think most of us expected more from him last year and that’s what made it so disappointing. His production definitely left something to be desired but his defensive play picked up the slack in those down times. Frankly, watching his two-way game emerge was something the fans should be excited about. No, he didn’t get the season he wanted after that tournament but the skills he showed was something we hadn’t really seen before. That was encouraging.

“This year, things are happening for him. He’s consistently doing it right at both ends of the rink and getting rewarded with offence.”

The thing that is the most noticeable for me is that Nuge seems to have his nose for the net back. Rather than defaulting to defence, we’re seeing RNH drive the net and get himself into better scoring areas. After Todd McLellan challenged him this summer, Nuge has responded with aplomb and looks more like the player we all hoped he would be.

“I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. I hope that it can continue.”

I’M PROUD OF HIM EVERY SINGLE DAY, TODD! GET ON MY LEVEL. Anyway… Tell us more about Nuge and how important to the team he is. Go for it, and speak slowly for me. My body is ready.

“There was a lot made out of Connor and Leo and the years they had last year, the contracts and all that type of stuff, but I can tell you that his teammates and the staff have not forgotten about 93 because he’s so important and he does so many things well.”

Amen, Todd. You’re singing to the choir. Now, it’s up to everyone else to get on the same page and for you to remind your GM that he’s untradeable. Thank you.

Check out the full clip below:

  • 24% body fat

    this isnt going to be popular, and I am a huge nuge fan, but is the off season time to trade him for a top end RH D. It frees up cap for the resigning of Nurse, Maroon, etc. It would be a rare case of selling high.

    This would just be another casualty of signing Lucic and Russell.

      • 24% body fat

        isnt this what the did with Hall, but in the description you gave it would also include much slower player who cant skate.

        as well its not in favour of maroon, but to ensure cap space for all RFA and UFAs that they need to resign.

        • NewPants

          Larson is Nuge’s draft year. = younger than Hall (and cheaper) (and can skate)
          The Maroon conversation is interesting. It’s hard to see him getting a raise and staying in oil-land.

    • ConAir NicCagevid

      To be clear-

      You want to trade a player who currently is giving us all he is worth and then some on his $6m contract, to make cap room to sign a ‘top end RHD’.. for the re-signing of players of less value to our team than Nuge? You would rather get rid of a very versatile and reliable centre at $6m , to overpay a player, Maroon at $4m lets say, who solely produces by playing with the best player in the league?

      Oh, and just how much money is a ‘top end RHD’ going to save you from $6m? $1 million at most, or nothing at all?

      Your post is going to be unpopular not only because it means trading Nuge to make room for Maroon and a top end RHD (that apparently play for $2m), but on every other level imaginable.

      • 24% body fat

        No I dont want to trade him. But instead of clearing cap and selling low which the oilers have done for the past couple of years, I am suggesting that if they are going to clear the cap space of Nuge it is best done when he has his most value.

        This wouldnt even be a conversation of Lucic was paid what he is worth or they found a cheaper replacement for Russell.

        This is why people hate these contracts, not for what they do today but for what they do tomorrow.

        • ConAir NicCagevid

          I dont know if my coffee isnt working today but I still dont fully understand your logic.

          You suggest trading him, but dont want to trade him.

          But if you were going to trade him, it would be to not only acquire a top end dman, but to also save cap space.

          You want trade lose a $6m contract (Nuge) to acquire most likely another $6m contract (top end RHD), and to make room for two more $4m (Maroon and Nurse) contracts?

          I do agree though that the Lucic signing is starting to show its detriment to our cap situation based on what he gives us on the ice, most nights.

          • 24% body fat

            People were screaming to trade him because he wasnt doing anything last year. Now that he has value he we dont trade him. Didnt work with Eberle. What would he have got if they traded him after his 73 point year. It is tough to do but the best teams trade when they have the most value because they are able to find players to fill the void. (oilers cant do that because they draft coke machines instead of skill)

            Nuge for Faulk, would cut 1.2 in salary, you could than get rid of russell for a bag of pucks, which would than free up another 4 million. This would give you plenty of room to try and find the scoring winger the oilers need. Where that comes from is a different story. But the oilers center depth would still be 97 29 18, which is strong. Long term they want 29 at center, so 6M on a third line center is not a good idea. If Yamo, Benson, Puljijarvi, become a top 6 winger than, the cap space is much more balanced.

            The idea of the original post is to get people from using emotion when talking about trading players. They are playing bad so trade them for nothing vs, they are playing great and are at an all time high value so get something for them.

            How much better is a hypothetical defence of Sekera, Nurse, Klefbom and Larsson Faulk Benning

            Its not just about a balanced team it is about a balance of where your cap space is being utilized and spent relative to the lineup. We are going to have a 6M dollar 4th line LW in three years.

            Is that good use of cap.

          • McRaj

            Lucic is on pace for 50 points, 46 point even strength pace, 241 hits, with the lowest shooting percentage in the last 5 years. People need to get off Lucic’s back. He is doing exactly what we expected of him. He has not declined yet, worry about years 5-7 of contract when we get there.

      • ConAir NicCagevid

        Orrrrrr we dont actually keep trading away point producers in favour of defensemen?

        There are a lot of “ifs” and hypotheticals in your scenario and there has to be, I get it. Right now we have a guy on fire that is one of very few bright spots on our team. He has a LW that makes as much money as him, and is arguably but very likely on the downslope of his career. It would make more sense to hope that by playing with a hot Nuge for the next year or two, that Lucic can pot 25-30 and up HIS trade value (although not as high as Nuge’s might be) and get something in return for him and clear his contract off the books. Nuge is worth more to this team than what he would get in return, and definitely worth more than Lucic, but I know you wont debate that.

    • McRaj

      I would rather they trade Maroon. Sell High on him, and plug someone else there to cash in. For all the hate Lucic gets, he is a better player than Maroon. No way I would pay Maroon the 4M he is going to get.

    • Jordan88

      I just read Trump called Duterte a good guy. I thought I had seen the dumbest thing but alas you proved me wrong.

      We don’t need a top pairing defenceman. Give our extremely young extremely mobile d-core time.

      When they play with confidence and don’t second guess they are one of the best defensive cores in the league. 25-26 is generally the age when defenders find themselves in this league. Elite or otherwise. We are seeing that in Nurse and Klefbom. Other offensive options are Bear and Jones.

      Relax they are doing decently enough and getting better game by game.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      Yeah, not popular. An Oiler other than 97 and 29 finally figures out how to shoot and put points up on the scoreboard and first thought is to trade….. um no.

    • Chester Copperpot

      Nuge should have been traded 2.5 years ago for Seth Jones when we actually had a chance. Seth Jones makes this team infinitely better than Nuge. Sorry but I don’t have rose coloured glasses on the chance Nuge could land a RHD of Jones’ quality this off season or ever. Just don’t trade him to keep Maroon.

    • AJ88

      You have mentioned Nuge for Faulk. Why would you think Carolina wants to trade Faulk @$4.8M? In trades you must have 2 willing participants, I can make up any trade that benefits the Oilers, too bad the other team has to be involved as well. You make a good armchair GM.

      • Chester Copperpot

        No way I trade RNH to make room for Maroon however if a legit1st pairing D. could be had, I pull the trigger. Preferably a RHD but if a LHD like OEL shakes loose (with an extension), Nuge + whatever else it takes in a heartbeat. Unless he has a 70 pt season, he isn’t enough to land anything by himself. The truly elite teams in the league have a 25-30 minute a night defenseman on their team. You would have to add a quality prospect and pick to make it happen. Nuge is a luxury with McDavid and Draisaitl as much as people don’t want to admit it.

  • OldOilerFan

    Let’s not turn this article into a Trade Nuge for or against discussion. Or at least not in November. Let’s enjoy the season the guy is having. Love the ‘Nuge!

      • AJ88

        Even thinking of trading RNH is beyond comprehension, defensively responsible, arguably their best penalty killer, drives the second line, driver on the second PP unit (what would he do with McD on the first unit), and now has some of his offense back. Sounds like someone that an organization would like to have around.
        As far as trading him for a “top RHD”, you will not be getting a top pairing RHD for $6M, shedding salary is the only reason for getting rid of Nuge, I would be looking at every other option before I pulled the trigger on him.
        And yes I have been a “fanboy” of Nuge since his arrival, have taken a lot of flak, but even thinking about dumping Nuge seems ludicrous to me.

  • ScottV

    Have to agree with 24% body fat, as long as the return for trading Nuge – clearly reflects this surge in offensive performance. We have what will be the best 1c in hockey – McD. We could very well have what may be the 2nd best c man in the world in hockey – as a 2c – Drai. Omg. Get the right support wingers for these guys and we’re set for 9 years.

    McD – good size, blazing fast, dynamic. On and on. Drai – great size, great speed, puck protector, world class passer. On and on.

    As these guys get a little older, It’s all covered – for whatever playoff match ups you want to throw at these guys, or we want to throw at them. The diversity between McD and Drai – gives you tremendous flexibility. It goes together like – Gretz / Messier or to a slightly lesser extent while Oilers – Weight / Arnott.

    Drai is gonna be your classic big man in the middle and we’re not gonna use him there? I doubt it. Only a matter of time before it has to go that way.

    I would give Nuge a go at 1rw and sharing c on the fly with McD. If that goes real well, then maybe you keep him as a top 2c backup – in case of injury.

    My guess – its good, but not good enough – if you can get a real nice return in trade. Nuge will have value if a team needing a top 2 c man believes he can help.

    • Big Nuggets

      Drai has play how many games at center? like 40? and you say he is just about the best second line center in the game. lets not get ahead of ourselves. I think Drai is a stud but a I am not in favor of jumping the gun on his development. Nuge is killing it right now, and still young enough that he might have more to give. Even in the future when Drai beats out Nuge for the 2nd line center spot, Nuge on thr 3rd line is worth keeping. you know McLellan will be shuffling the lines up anyway and with PP and PK Nuge will get his minutes. Nuge is about to earn every dollar of his contract, we might as well let him earn it for our side.

  • McDavid's Comet

    No way PC trades RNH in favour of keeping Maroon, if Maroon doesn’t take a discount to play with McDavid, he’s gone at or before trade deadline.

  • Rock11

    As was pointed out earlier the contracts signed this summer and last are going to make it difficult to keep Nuge. Russell is obviously the most egregious but the overpay on Leon and Lucic provide a significant roadblock to holding on to another $6m contract. Factor that into that if Chiarelli had his way I’m sure Leon would be 2C. He may trade Nuge partly for cap reasons but also to force TMac into deploying Leon the way he thinks he should be. None of what I just said makes me the least bit happy. Please, for the love of Gord do not trade Nuge.

  • Wranglicon

    Is there no way to keep Nuge and Maroon? Fayne is gone (2.6M), and Korpikosky buyout comes off the books (1.0M). No. Hah. McDavid’s contract eats up all of that, plus our current cap space. And we need to re-sign Nurse and Benning. And Cagguila, Pakarinen, and Brossoit.

    Goddamn numbers. I don’t think we get to keep either without moving a different contact of note.

    • Chester Copperpot

      It will most likely be Sekera. He has a NMC but still think he’s the best bet to be traded which is a shame considering we have to keep Russell.

  • Dr

    I felt bad for Nuge last year. He took some criticism for not putting up points. But, I can’t think of a period of the season where he wasn’t playing with at least one, and usually two, slumping wingers. Plus, he was trying to be the defensively responsible one on his line. His linemates sure weren’t responsible.

  • GriffCity

    Love Nuge, he’s having a much better year offensively for sure. Your bit about him becoming a 2-way center is believable but his numbers this year away from the puck tell a bit of a different story. The stat line says he’s leaking chances against at a greater volume than previous years. Perhaps because he’s pushing for more offence and taking more chances? Hard to say, but Nuge will be a very valuable player league wide if he can shore up his defendive numbers along side his offensive ones.

  • camdog

    RnH has been the teams best/most consistent player thus far this season. It’s getting whacky in here when people are worried about keeping Maroon over RnH. If Maroon keeps padding his numbers on McDavids line, he’ll be looking for a contract every bit as bad as Russell’s.

  • If the cap goes to $80 million as rumoured, then it’s easy to keep Nuge. If it’s $75 million, then to keep him you can’t go too high on other RFA contracts.

    Is Nurse $3.0M? Benning? I think you’ll have to do bridge deals with them.

    The bottom six? If you’re resigning everyone, the best you can do is save about $1M by not overdoing their contracts.
    Cammalleri stays at $1M
    Strome? Stays at $2.5M? He certainly doesn’t deserve a raise at this point.
    Caggiula and Slepyshev at $1.0M or $1.25M?
    Pakarinen at $975K?
    Letestu gets a bump to $2.0M?

    Now Maroon. More than $3.0M and it becomes very difficult to stay within cap space and you can’t resign him. If he’s asking for $4.0M off the get-go, which he has every right to do, and you can’t resign him before the trade deadline, then you trade him for picks and a good prospect–but no NHL contract coming back the other way.