Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish announced today that the team has agreed to terms with centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a seven-year contract extension. The deal will keep the forward in blue and orange silks for the next eight years.
Here are some interesting storylines from today’s press conference.
WHY SO QUICKLY?
With the season not even underway, there was time to negotiate a contract with Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers wasted no time in locking up their young star, but why?
“The simple answer is, I’d seen enough,” said MacTavish. “I’ve seen enough of Ryan’s character and enough of Ryan’s game to know that he’s a guy that we want to build our future with. We’re super excited to have Ryan agree and commit to us as well.”
It is a good sign of the progress the Oilers have made in drawing closer to contender status. It makes Edmonton a more desirable location to talented players.
“I think that’s a real coup for the organization and the Edmonton Oilers to have a player of this stature feel strongly enough about our program that he’s committed to us for the next eight years and hopefully well beyond that.”
WAS THERE ANY HESITATION?
With Nugent-Hopkins’ status for opening night still in doubt due to the shoulder surgery in the summer, signing him to a large contract such as this has its risks.
The Oilers GM dispelled any notion of such a thing, expressing confidence in the young centre’s ability to come back and perform at the appropriate level.
So was there any hesitation?
“No,” said MacTavish. “Zero. They had lots of success with that procedure in the past so the shoulder and the surgery is solid. There’s a good history to lead us to believe and have every confidence that there won’t be a problem going forward.”
While some players may have wanted to focus on getting back to 100% health and playing again before signing a contract like this, Nugent-Hopkins is happy to get this distraction out of the way.
“Obviously, my first priority is getting healthy and making sure that I’m ready to play,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “Getting the contract done now is definitely a positive thing. It’s something that I don’t have to worry about and something that’s not on my mind even a little bit. I just want to get back to healthy and get back to playing.”
WILL HE OUTPLAY THESE NUMBERS?
If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the player the Oilers think he is, the forward is going to be a star in the NHL. It is completely possible that he could outplay even a contract of this size.
“I feel very strongly that he’s going to outperform the number on the contract,” said MacTavish. “I don’t know when that’s going to happen but I anticipate that it will happen pretty soon during the length of this contract.”
If Nugent-Hopkins can outplay a seven-year, $42 million contract extension then Oilers fans will be thrilled at the production from their young star.
THE BIG THREE
With this signing, the Oilers have essentially locked down star forwards Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Nugent-Hopkins long-term.
Eberle is under contract through 2018-19, Hall through 2019-2020 and Nugent-Hopkins is signed through 2020-21. The staggered structure of the three signings was by design. It makes it easier to extend the Oilers star players in the future.
The future of the Oilers appears to be wrapped up in those three players.