The Edmonton Oilers will go longer in order to pay less for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 9 Things


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Good Sunday morning, fans!

The Oilers are getting into the guts of a critical off-season for the franchise. Pro and Amateur meetings will lead into expansion, the draft and free agency. The window Ken Holland will have to in which to upgrade this roster will open wide quickly, and then all but close part-way through July.

As my late father used to say, time to make hay while the sun’s shining.

That and more in this edition of…

9 Things

9. Gaetan Haas has signed a multi-year contract back home in Switzerland. Haas is a smart player who skates well and has a sound defensive conscience. But he lost too many board battles, too many faceoffs, and didn’t have enough finish. It’s a tough league. Often “good” players like Haas can’t quite make the grade.

8. The Jack Adams nominees for Coach of the Year are out. No Dave Tippett. Based on his regular season, which is what the award looks at so set the playoffs aside, he merited some votes. Tippett’s winning percentage went from .585 to .643, his team scored more and were scored on less with about the same lineup.


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7. The Hart Trophy nominees for the 2020-21 NHL season are Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews. I agree with all 3. And I suspect the voting will go in that descending order. Leon Draisaitl was 2nd in league scoring by a 15-point margin and was 2nd in the NHL in +/- by 1 point (+29), yet he isn’t nominated for either the Hart or the Selke. Those are some high standards.

6. I suspect that Ken Holland’s goaltending decisions this Summer will be somewhat dependent on Stuart Skinner. Skinner went 20-9-1 with a 2.38 GAA and a .914 SV% on route to Bakersfield’s AHL Pacific Division title. I mention the championship since winning is the most important measure of a goaltender. With 3 more-or-less full years in the minors now under his belt, Skinner is probably a year or less away from challenging for a slot in the Oilers nets.

5. The Spring (R2) Numeris radio ratings are out. Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer continues to perennially pace the pack of Sports Talkers in Edmonton. Bob’s show leads by a significant margin in terms of total listeners in its time slot. Bob drew an average of 33,368 listeners daily, FC CUME, 2+. Reid WilkinsInside Sports came in 2nd (24,371). Some of Reid’s evening stats were buoyed by the game broadcasts but he’s also a major part of those. The Jason Gregor Show pulled into a solid 3rd place finish (22,351). The pandemic lock downs were hard on talk radio’s in-car audience. My respect to everyone in the format for solid performances under challenging circumstances.


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4. Speaking of the Oilers in-game broadcasts, I believe that the path is open for Cam Moon to return as 1 of 2 Oilers radio play-by-play broadcasters. Moon came to Edmonton from Red Deer’s junior franchise on a 1-year agreement. But with Troy Gillard (a good man) moving into the Rebels organization where Cam used to reside, it would make sense for Moon to continue calling games on CHED, especially when the electric Jack Michaels swings over to regional TV. Moon, with his playing background and miles “on the bus” in the WHL, was a good fit on the Oilers broadcasts. And I’m led to believe that his teammates liked him, too.

3. I was a little surprised with the push-back over the contract extension for Devin Shore. My sense was that the disagreement primarily came from those in the analytics camp. What I see in Shore is a smart 26-year old veteran with above-average wheels who has both the size, grit and frame of mind to be effective in the playoffs. Shore’s also able to play all 3 forward positions and the PK. Some make him out to be an offensive plug. But while Shore is admittedly no Mike Bossy, he does have on his NHL resume is 3 consecutive seasons with over double-digit goals and 29+ points. That’s a perfectly acceptable performance. Besides, have you looked at who Shore primarily played with this past season?

2. If the Leafs can’t get Zack Hyman done, I expect the Oilers will be in pitching for him. But there will be many suitors. So, who else may they target? I think the way Tampa has handled the cap is a stain that the league needs to wear. I don’t blame the team for doing whatever they can legally get away with. But in off-season, the Lightning will need to shed salary to get back under the cap. Don’t be surprised if Tyler Johnson and a sweetener end up in Seattle, I see a fit there. But the Bolts would still need to clear a couple more contracts. One to watch could be Alex Killorn. He’s a legit Top-6 guy at $4.45. That would be right in Edmonton’s price range. If Boston can sign Taylor Hall, then hometown RFA Jake DeBrusk becomes expendable. The Bruins won’t get what is DeBrusk is worth, they’ve been too busy devaluing their own asset. Oh, and if Hall doesn’t sign in Boston then do not dismiss Edmonton’s interest in Taylor, either. Just sayin’.


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1.Contract negotiations have resumed between G.M. Ken Holland and Rick Valette, the player agent for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Logic would dictate Holland being open to some additional term in exchange for an AAV that the G.M.’s budget can more easily manage. Sometimes the term of a deal is more important than the big bucks. If the situation doesn’t work out, then a club can get out from under it sooner. But in this case, I think it’s better for the club to preserve dollars for elsewhere in the lineup now in exchange for a little more term. Remember, the NHL will probably be dealing with a flat cap for the next few years. But by the time a longer-term contract for Nugent-Hopkins enters its final phase the cap will have relaxed. So, the dollars on a $5.25-$5.75m contract would then have a relatively smaller impact on the big picture.

That is of course provided The Nuge can still perform at a reasonable level by that time. That is a bet which most teams are forced to make with UFA’s. It’s always a bit of a gamble. History suggests that NHL players tend to hit their prime at or around 25. They often remain highly effective through 30. Performance, however, tends to nose downward by age 33-34. And sometimes…sharply so.

A 6-year deal for the 28-year old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins today would make him 34 by expiry. With his higher than average skill set, 93 has a chance of still covering the bet by then. However, I suspect 7-8 years is closer to what it would take for the Nugent-Hopkins camp to bend on the dollars.

In that case, he’d be 35-36 by expiry. And while I have all kinds of time for Ryan, I’m less confident that Nugent-Hopkins or any other non-elite player for that matter can still perform like a $5-6m man at that age.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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