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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

What Should Nugent-Hopkins’ New Contract Look Like?

Frank Seravalli’s tweet got Oilernation buzzing early this morning; mainly Baggedmilk as he hopes to purchase a new pair of Nuge pajamas.

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The question is: what cap hit do you think Nugent-Hopkins should have on a long-term deal?

With a flat cap for the foreseeable future, what length and salary are reasonable?

Nugent-Hopkins is a good player. He’s their third best forward. He’s been an Oiler his entire career.

Re-signing him makes sense, but it has to be at the right price.

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Here is how he ranks, among  NHL forwards, over the past two seasons, which were his two most productive in the NHL.

He is 61st in 5×5 points with 68. (91th in P/60 (1.96) among fwds with minimum 500 5×5 min).
He is 37th in total points with 130. (60th in P/60 (2.62) among fwds with minimum 1,500 TOI).
He is 16th in PP points with 50. (31st in P/60 among fwd with minimum 200 PP minutes).

His current $6m cap hit is 66th amongst forwards. His new contract kicks in when he is 28.

With a flat cap, I’m not sure I see much of a raise coming for Nugent-Hopkins.

COMPARABLES…

Here are the recent UFA or pending UFA contracts signed by forwards

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Logan Couture: July 1st, 2018. Eight years with $8m AAV. He was 30 when the deal began.
James van Riemsdyk: July 1st, 2018. Five years at $7m AAV. He was 29 when deal began.
Nikita Kucherov: July 10th, 2018. Eight years at $9.5m AAV. Deal started when he was 26.
Blake Wheeler: September 4th, 2018. Five years at $8.25m AAV. He was 33 when deal began.
Max Pacioretty: September 18th, 2018. Four years at $7m AAV. He was 31 at start of deal.
Tyler Seguin: September 13th, 2018. Eight years at $9.85m AAV. Deal started when he was 28.
Mark Stone: March 8th, 2019. Eight years at $9.5m AAV. Deal started when he was 27.
Jeff Skinner: June 7th, 2019. Eight years at $9m AAV. He was 27 when deal kicked in.
Kevin Hayes: June 18th, 2019. Seven years at $7.14m AAV. Deal started when he was 27.
William Karlsson: June 24th, 2019. Eight years at $5.9m AAV. Deal began he was 26.
Mats Zuccarello: July 1st, 2019. Five years at $6m AAV. He was 32 when deal started.
Matt Duchene: July 1st, 2019. Seven years at $8m AAV. He was 28 in first year of deal.
Joe Pavelski: July 1st, 2019. Three years at $7m AAV. He was 35 at start of deal.
Anders Lee: July 1st, 2019. Seven years at $7m AAV. He was 29 when deal kicked in.
Brayden Schenn: October 4th, 2019. Eight years at $6.5m AAV. He is 29 when deal begins this season.
Nick Backstrom: January 14th, 2020. Five years at $9.2m AAV. He will be 33 when deal starts this season.
Chris Kreider: February 24th, 2020. Seven years at $6.5m AAV. He is 29 when contract begins this season.

The obvious bad contract, which I said at the time was awful, is Skinner. Not comparable.
Wheeler, Pavelski, Zuccarello, Pacioretty, Couture and Backstrom are 30+ so I don’t see them as good comparables.
Kucherov is elite, while Seguin had six consecutive 72+ points seasons, so RNH doesn’t compare to those two either.

So that leaves eight players:

Stone: March 8th, 2019. Eight years at $9.5m AAV.
Duchene: July 1st, 2019. Seven years at $8m AAV.
Hayes: June 18th, 2019. Seven years at $7.14m AAV.
Van Riemsdyk: July 1st, 2018. Five years at $7m AAV.
Lee: July 1st, 2019. Seven years at $7m AAV.
Schenn: October 4th, 2019. Eight years at $6.5m AAV.
Kreider: February 24th, 2020. Seven years at $6.5m AAV.
Karlsson: June 24th, 2019. Eight years at $5.9m AAV.

Stone isn’t even in the convo. RNH is not getting paid more than Leon Draisaitl. No chance. Also, Stone, Duchene, Hayes and JVR went to new teams. I think looking at players who remain with their team is important.

I think the two most accurate comparables are Scheen and Kreider. They are considered the third best forwards on their team. The Blues have Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly, while the Rangers have Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. I think that is important when looking at comparisons. Lee is the captain in New York, and probably their second best forward after Matt Barzal, but you could look at his as well.

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The Flyers overpaid for both Van Riemsdyk and Hayes, in my opinion, but at least JVR was only a five year deal. I’m sure RNH’s agent will look at the Hayes contract, but he’s scored 50 points once in his career. It is interesting to note of these eight, the four who remained with their team and didn’t test free agency signed the four lowest deals. I’ve said it many times: free agency leads to overpayments much more bad than good signings.

If I’m Holland, I’m looking at Schenn and Kreider, and considering they were signed prior to Covid hitting, we can probably argue Nugent-Hopkins isn’t in a position to ask for a large raise. We will know better when we see free agent contracts starting next Friday, but I sense we are going to see a dip in AAVs.

Here are their offensive numbers the past two seasons.

Player       5×5 (TOI)             PP PTS (TOI)           Total PTS (TOI)
RNH          68 (2,077)          50 (509)                   130 (2,978)
Schenn      66 (2,067)          33 (377)                   112  (2,646)
Kreider      72 (2,028)          25 (421)                    97 (2,461)

Player       P/60 5×5            P/60 PP PTS         P/60 Total PTS
RNH          1.96                     5.89                       2.62
Schenn      1.92                     5.24                       2.54
Kreider      2.13                     3.56                       2.36

Their 5×5 production is similar, with Kreider being the most effective. Nugent-Hopkins is the best on the PP and slightly more productive overall than Schenn.

Where RNH drops off is on-ice goals for/against.

Schenn outscored the opposition 95-73 (56.5GF%), while Kreider was even better at 110-78 (58.5GF%). RNH is at 93-89 (51.1GF%).

CONCLUSION…

With the new financial landscape, I don’t see many arguments why Holland should pay RNH more than $6.5 million. Considering we are mid-Covid, I believe $6- $6.5 million over six years is a fair deal for both sides.

What term and AAV do you think is reasonable?

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