This morning, TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweeted out that the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have begun discussing a long-term contract extension. Yes, friends, it’s time to finally start walking down the path to #KeepNugeForever.
Talks continue to progress between #Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a long-term extension. Not done, and not close, but positive developments in last 24 hrs.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 1, 2020
With only one year left on the seven-year, $42 million contract he signed with Craig MacTavish on September 19th, 2013, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ future with the Oilers is something that needs to be handled sooner than later. A utility knife on a team filled with spoons, RNH provides the Oilers with a flavour of versatility that they simply don’t get from most of their other forwards — in fact, it’s not really close. This is a guy that plays in all situations, in all areas of the ice, has earned the trust of every coach he’s played under, and has done it while playing for one of the strangest franchises in the league. These days, the transformation continues as Nuge has found a productive home on the left-wing with either Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid and turned himself into one of the most productive wingers in the NHL. What’s not to like? The fact that he can also play centre if/when it’s needed is a bonus that the Oilers are unlikely to find anywhere else, especially not at this calibre.
From the moment he was selected first overall in 2011, we’ve all had high hopes for this player as he was expected to be one of the horsemen that would guide us out of the darkness and back into the playoffs. Unfortunately, as we all know far too well, the playoff portion of the equation hasn’t happened nearly enough in Nuge’s tenure with the Edmonton Oilers, but I would also suggest that many of those issues came at the hands of management. There have been so many ups and downs and weird trades over the years that it’s almost amazing the guy hasn’t wanted out, ya know? I’d also argue that RNH has mostly handled his end of the bargain without so much as a single complaint about any of it. And now that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are here to handle the heavy lifting and captain the ship forward, RNH finds himself in the perfect complementary role behind them and that has incredible value to this hockey team.
Not only is he able to provide reasonable minutes in any situation thrown his way, Nugent-Hopkins has also found the scoring touch we’ve always been looking for since being moved over to the wing, actually blossoming into one of the most productive players in the league since the calendar flipped to 2020. Over the past two seasons (147GP), Nugent-Hopkins amassed 130 points (50G, 80A) in what is undoubtedly the most productive stretch of his career, and it seems like he’s finally landed in the perfect position for him to succeed. Gone are the days of expecting him to produce alongside Milan Lucic and Ty Rattie and wondering why it’s not happening, and I could not be happier to see this player finally getting some success. Did we expect him to be a winger? No, probably not, but I also think the Oilers would be hardpressed to find one better than he is or one that can also flip over to centre if needed. Personally, and I know I’m extremely biased here as President and CEO of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club, I’m hoping that RNH locks in a deal that takes him towards the end of his career so that he can retire with the team that drafted him. Like I said off the jump, it’s time to keep Nuge forever.
In 65 games played last season, Nugent-Hopkins finished with 61 points (22G, 39A) to go along with 20:28 in average time on ice and a 50.7% faceoff rate.
NUGENT-HOPKINS’ CAREER SO FAR