It really was just a matter of time before the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins agreed to a new deal. It was just a matter of whether or not they’d lock him up long term, or approach it as more of a bridge deal after a disappointing sophomore season.
But the Oilers showed the rest of the league just how high they are on the kid that they selected no. 1 overall two years ago, signing Nugent-Hopkins to a new seven-year contract extension, worth $42 million in total. RNH was set to become a restricted free agent next summer.
Rather than let talks go into next summer and run the risk of subjecting the center to an offer sheet, the Oilers did exactly what they should have, and exactly what they will probably do with Justin Schultz. It’s a more than fair deal for Nugent-Hopkins, especially if he rebounds as expected.
The 2013 season wasn’t kind to Nugent-Hopkins. He was never able to gain traction in the shortened season, finishing with only 24 points in 40 games over the shortened campaign. He’s been limited, in terms of his games played, by injury in each of his first two seasons in the league.
Part of the reason for his struggles last year was an adjustment to an increased role. He started more of his shifts in the defensive zone, as the Oilers attempted to work him into that two-way center role that he figures to slot into for the next several years.
After a year to adjust to that, and a summer to get completely healthy, there’s no reason to think that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t make this a fantastic deal for the Edmonton Oilers. It’s more than fair value, considering his skill set and the talent he has around him. The 2013-14 campaign may very well be a breakout campaign for the youngster.