News broke yesterday that the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have begun talks on a new contract extension. The 20-year old, who is currently sidelined while recovering from shoulder surgery is entering the final year of his three-year, entry level deal. Needless to say Nugent-Hopkins is in for a healthy raise.
But how much is number 93 worth to the Oilers? It would be foolish for Craig MacTavish and company to let Nugent-Hopkins enter free agency despite the club having the opportunity to match any qualifying offers he might receive as a restricted free agent. The goal is obviously to lock him up long-term and do so as soon as possible, preferably before the season starts. It’s one less distraction to both the players and the club as a whole.
With Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle receiving similar extensions prior to their entry level deals expiring, Nugent-Hopkins should be looking for something similar. But with only two years of service under his belt and one that was less than ideal when it comes to offensive production (due to the nagging shoulder injury) is it fair to hand over the same type of contract?
Don’t get me wrong, the Oilers must keep their young core together and that includes Nugent-Hopkins. The point could be argued that he hasn’t proven he’s worth $6-7 million annually like that of Hall and Eberle given last year’s numbers. Just 4 goals and 24 points in 40 games, although he was playing with a bummed shoulder for the entire year.
When looking at his rookie year the value is clearly there and the outlook is promising when considering he’s part of the young core that is crucial to this team’s success. During his first season with the Oilers he scored 18 goals and put up 52 points in 62 games, all at the ripe age of 18. He was robbed of being named the Calder Trophy winner for rookie of the year but missing 20 games may have had a role in that.
Injuries have been a constant with Nugent-Hopkins during his first two seasons, something that could play into account when discussing a new deal. None the less, it’s likely the Oilers will pay him similar to what his linemates received and roll the dice that he stays healthy over the long-term. When healthy, his point production will return and that in itself is invaluable.
Alas we get to the daily poll. What do you think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is worth? Take part in today’s poll and let’s see where the results shake out.