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Nugent-Hopkins' contract extension top priority for Oilers, GM says

Forward scored 61 points this season, versatility at center or wing makes him 'an important player'

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins signing a contract extension is a top priority for the Edmonton Oilers, general manager Ken Holland said Monday.

"[Nugent-Hopkins] is a really important player on our team," Holland said. "My goal is to have [him] here for a long time, find a solution on an extension, whether it's this week or we go into the season … and deal with it down the road."

The 27-year-old forward, who had 61 points (22 goals, 39 assists) in 65 games, has one season remaining on a seven-year, $42 million contract he signed Sept. 19, 2013.

Holland said he's already had conversations with Nugent-Hopkins' agent, Rick Valette, about what a contract might look like.

"Certainly, he is a priority and a really good player and an important player," Holland said. "He's good defensively, can play center, but is also very comfortable on left wing. He can play with Leon (Draisaitl) or he can play with Connor (McDavid). You can move Leon up and he can play in the two-hole.... He's versatile and an important player for us." 

That versatility paid dividends for the Oilers in the second half of this season, when Nugent-Hopkins played regularly with Draisaitl, who won the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL, and Kailer Yamamoto after Yamamoto was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Dec. 29, 2019.

In Edmonton's final 30 games, Nugent-Hopkins scored 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) while averaging 21:32 of ice time, which was more than McDavid (21:13).

Nugent-Hopkins carried that play into the postseason, when he scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in four games, although the No. 5 seed Oilers were eliminated by the No. 12 seed Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Selected by Edmonton with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Nugent-Hopkins has scored 443 points (169 goals, 274 assists) in 604 regular-season games, and 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 17 postseason games.

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