The Edmonton Oilers have spent the last few years accruing top picks thanks to several consecutive years of futility. Which has helped them to build up a strong core. Now they face the difficulty that comes with being able to stock up on young talent: maintaining it.
The Oilers recently had to sign restricted free agent Sam Gagner to a new contract, having already extended Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Next on the list for the Oilers are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenseman Justin Schultz.
Looking at Nugent-Hopkins specifically, his contract is one that the Oilers should try and extend at some point this summer. Off of a pretty lucrative entry-level contract, given his status as a no. 1 overall pick, RNH will become a restricted free agent next summer.
But now might be the time for the Oilers to try and extend him. He’s coming off of a down year, but there’s no reason to think that he won’t rebound. He had to adjust to more of a defensive-type role, rather than getting the majority of his starts in the offensive zone. He dealt with nagging injuries. Which led to only 24 points, including just four goals, in 40 games.
All signs point to a rebound in 2013-14. He’ll be healthy and back in his role as the no. 1 center for the Oilers. He has offensive talent around him, and the Oilers have gone out an signed a center to serve a defensive role, in Boyd Gordon, which could help to ease some of the burden on RNH. Rebounding will cost the Oilers a pretty penny.
If they extend him now, they can likely save a few bucks. Given his massive potential as a two-way center, Nugent-Hopkins is going to see a pretty favorable contract, regardless of how poor a year he had last season. But looking at a contract for him sooner, rather than later, when he could potentially have a breakout season, would be a wise move from a financial standpoint.