Ryan Rishaug is reporting the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are closing in on a massive eight-year, $41 million deal. The term is long and Nuge isn’t a speed demon, but he’s a smart player and has crazy edges so that part of his game shouldn’t be an issue for most of this contract.
The five on five offensive side of Nuge went for a walkabout last season and his pts-60 in the discipline fell from 2.23 (a career high) in 2019-20 to just 1.15 (close to a career low) this past season. His five on five goals per 60 fell from 0.98 to 0.57, and that’s a concern.
He remained the power-play witch Tyler Dellow named him years ago, and his on-ice rel numbers are rock solid. I like the deal. It’s too long for sure, but the cap hit ($5.1M) is a gift from the player in exchange for dollars tacked on at the end. Burnaby Ryan appears to have turned into Beaumont Ryan somewhere along the way. Holland likely need not worry about the final two or three years of the deal.
As a fan of player, I’m here for it. As an observer of Ken Holland’s team building, I think he’s lucky Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was on the other end of the negotiation. This is a minor fall, and a major lift.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Can the Oilers’ next wave of prospects help them win a playoff series in 2022?
- DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- onathan Willis: How underappreciated Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry became a Canadiens mainstay
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers return to the WHL prospect pool in the 2021 draft?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect pipeline could be at stake as AHL coach Jay Woodcroft outgrows his minor-league role
- DNB and Dom: How the Oilers should value pending UFAs
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations eat dust during Connor McDavid’s dream season
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
Back in the winter of 2015, in what turned out to be the final months of Craig MacTavish’s time as an NHL general manager, television commentator John Shannon reported on a conversation he’d had with MacT. Shannon: “I talked to Craig MacTavish before the game, and about the five or six games behind the bench. I said you know size doesn’t matter anymore and he said oh no, one thing I learned is that size matters more than ever. Size and quickness.“
MacT drafted two big men (Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl) with his first-round picks, and I think that reflects his intelligent approach to the issue of size. It can be a good thing but it must be accompanied by skill, speed and the ability to make plays.
Size matters more than ever? Only if accompanied by a great deal of skill.
This team was coached by Ron Low, with help from Bob McCammon and Ted Green.
These are mostly bigger players, there were nicknames like The Tank (Kovalenko) and miles and miles of rugged play from truly talented skill men like Weight, Smyth and Guerin. McAmmond was a little undersized but rambunctious and a speed demon, Marchant also a roadrunner who grew into a fine two-way player.
The big curiosities on this list (for me) involve the number of minutes invested in Buchberger five on five, Lindgren too although he did play a pile on the PK. The other thing is the lack of offense from the group beyond Weight and McAmmond. This was a talented team, size and skill and speed.
Six in this group (Weight, Smyth, Guerin, Marchant, Grier, Buchberger) played in more than 1,000 NHL games, and McAmmond played in 996 games in the world’s best league.
The career pts-per-82 games totals on four of these men are strong: Weight (68), Guerin (56), Smyth (54), Kovalenko (50), McAmmond (37), Marchant (34), Murray (31), Grier (30), Mats Lindgren (27) and Buchberger (21). I know the Oilers have two men who have posted bigger numbers than Weight and Guerin, but are there four Oilers on the 2020-21 team who are averaging 50 points per 82 games for their NHL career?
There are four men (in blue) who are Marchant or smaller in size. I understand some will want to push back and say Archibald plays a gritty style or Yamamoto used his size as an advantage in turning over pucks, and in general I agree with you. Size shouldn’t be an issue if the player can post numbers (Yamamoto an example since January 2020).
It’s also true that there are just two men who push the river five on five, and the fact they push it out to sea is fantastic but more is needed from the rest of the group.
What I’m saying is this: I’m all-in on smaller players or bigger players or wagon wheels playing forward, but they have to score points. If you’re 5.10 and not scoring, that doesn’t make you better than a guy who is 6.04 and not scoring.
Now, what about the points-per-82 games over career? The 1997-98 team had four men, Weight (68), Guerin (56), Smyth (54), Kovalenko (50). What about this bunch?
McDavid (116) and Draisaitl (87) are lapping the field and it’s kind of overwhelming, like you need a minute to adjust. After that, we have Nugent-Hopkins (60), Yamamoto (41), Kahun (37), Chiasson (29), Shore (29), Puljujarvi (26), Archibald (24), Khaira (20).
So, either Yamamoto or Puljujarvi need to kick out the jams, or Holland needs to find the new Billy Guerin.