Depending on how you look at these things -- after all, it took some annual misery to get them there -- the Edmonton Oilers have been very fortunate to amass a core of incredible young players: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Sure, it’d be nice if one of them, you know, was a 25-minute-a-night defenseman, but still.
Hall (seven years) and Eberle (six years) signed second contracts that carried a $6 million cap hit, and now Nugent-Hopkins has done the same: Inking a 7-year extension for $42 million, keeping him in Edmonton through 2021.
He’s two years into his NHL career but has played just 102 games, thanks to injuries and the lockout. His numbers tumbled last season after a strong rookie campaign that saw his points per game at 0.84. But his advanced stats showed progress last season at both ends of the ice at just 20 years of age, so the long-term commitment is made with confidence.
So he’s produced. My hope is that they go to eight years with him and that if he’s trying to do a shorter deal that they don’t bite. Look back at that list of high draft picks who did five or six or seven years and ask yourself: in how many of these cases would the team have wanted to be able to extend the deal for the same money? I’d suggest that the answer is: all of them.
If you’re going to do the contract that sets the guy up for life, you might as well get that extra year tacked on there. Everybody’s different but if he’s looking at castle-on-the-moon money, it’s maybe a bit easier to give up that extra year to get it – we saw [Matt] Duchene take a pretty reasonable deal for that money and it happens with guys in baseball. Baseball’s not hockey but people are people.
This is obviously great news for both the player and the team. The Nuge gets a big money contract despite his glamor stats not having the same luster as those that Hall and Eberle posted before they were given huge money. The Oilers lock up a player that tracking to be an elite offensive pivot in this league.
And hopefully, eventually, these six-millionaires can get around to making the playoffs.