Oilmen hope Nugent-Hopkins bet pays off while window is open – .

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Oilmen hope Nugent-Hopkins bet pays off while window is open – .


EDMONTON – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins owns a horse named Infinite Patience and has just signed a contract that could make him an Edmonton Oiler for life.

It’s a good thing he didn’t participate in Seattle Slew.

“If we had lost Nuge it would have been a massive loss,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday after signing Nugent-Hopkins to an eight-year, $ 41 million contract. “His versatility – he can play center, he can play left wing. His leadership in the locker room. He can kill penalties. He thinks at a high level …

“It’s not a question of sentimentality. It’s about trying to win, ”he said. “We’re a much better team with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the team. ”

Nugent-Hopkins’ average annual value – the number that dictates how much of the Oilers cap it consumes – falls under this new $ 6 million to $ 5.125 million deal. It’s a win for the Netherlands, and anyone who believes the Oilers’ Stanley Cup window is open.

However, 28-year-old Nugent-Hopkins would earn that money until he was 36 – the risk for Holland, but the reward for the player.

What risk does this imply? Holland admits there are, but had to be realistic.

“No contract is perfect. I’m sure Ryan would like to have more caps, and I would like to have less tenure, ”said the CEO. “If Ryan goes to the market on July 28, I have no doubt that he (is making more money). He gives over there. He wants to be an oilman, he loves living here and he wants to be an oilman his whole career.

And Nugent-Hopkins’ brain game makes him a good bet to still be a contributor in his mid-30s.

“He has a good sense of hockey. He’s really smart. He’s very balanced with the puck – attributes to his game that when he turns 60 and plays old hockey he will have a sense of hockey and hands, ”said Holland. “He will be smart, calm. He will not return the puck.

Nugent-Hopkins’ career path has taken him from a No.1 overall draft pick, tagged as a frontline center to build a Stanley Cup contender, to a left winger who can play center to the rigor, kill penalties, and bear its share of the burden on a power play that has led the NHL for two straight years.

But the trump card for the Netherlands is that Nugent-Hopkins wants to play in Edmonton. And there just aren’t many players of his capacity who will need less AAV to live and play in northern Alberta.

“It’s been my home for 10 years… it’s my goal all the time to sign and stay,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who was born in Burnaby, BC and played his junior hockey in Red Deer. , Alberta. “I want to be me Edmonton. I want to win in Edmonton. For me, it has always been an honor to be a part of it here. It has always been my goal to stay.

“It was about finding that happy medium for both parties. If that helps our team find parts here and there, that’s great. I am happy to remain an Oiler for my entire career.

Are you going to let a guy who thinks like that walk?

Not in Edmonton, you are not.

The Holland Oilers rank in the Top 5 of the teams on the no-trade lists every year.

Sure, a Tyson Barrie will see the opportunity to run a power play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and sign a one-year contract to boost his value, but players like Alex Pietrangelo are choosing places like Vegas. Wishing Ryan Getzlaf would move his family from Newport Beach to the tundra in northern Alberta is a fantasy. And most of the American players (Brandon Saad, Blake Coleman) want to stay in the United States, although they will make an exception for Vancouver, Toronto or even Calgary.

Rarely, if ever, is Edmonton.

So a GM who would have needed to find two Top 6 left wingers if he’d let Nugent-Hopkins walk looked at his chances of getting there and went Plan B: Drop the tenure to keep the ceiling low.

Now Holland must sign UFA defender Adam Larsson, find another Top 6 left winger, get a younger goalie to share his time with Mike Smith, sign Smith and possibly replace Oscar Klefbom.

The list of the Netherlands is still long. Adding “replace Nugent-Hopkins” made no sense.

“The next four or five years… these are the best years for a lot of the players on this team,” said Holland. “I know Nuge, he knows us. He loves being an Oiler. I know what he can bring to the team. We found a solution that made him feel comfortable and we were comfortable.

Infinite Patience, the horse, has not won a race for two years.

The Oilers are hoping its owner pays better than that.

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