Preparations for next season have begun for the Edmonton Oilers, who flip their calendar to another year and another chance to hopefully compete for the Stanley Cup.
During the 2021 season, the Oilers reached the Stanley Cup playoffs but were swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round. The Oilers last made it past the first round during the 2017 season and have faced tough playoff droughts in the past.
The Oilers announced that one of their key pieces and one of their longest-tenured players on the rosters has re-signed with the club, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins inked an eight-year, $41 million contract.
Nugent-Hopkins would have reached unrestricted free agency this off-season, but opted to stick with Edmonton. His current deal comes with a no-movement clause. His last contract provided no trade protection.
“I love being an Oiler. I always have. My goal has always been to stay an Oiler,” Nugent-Hopkins said after the season. “It’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in for the last 10 years.”
The 28-year-old from Burnaby, British Columbia was selected first overall by the Oilers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Nugent-Hopkins has spent his entire 10-year career with Edmonton, racking up 478 points (293 assists) in 656 career games.
Last season, Nugent-Hopkins tallied 35 points in 52 games played, good for 5th in team scoring.
When asked about the re-signing of Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said that his versatility and leadership in the locker room was a huge contributor to keeping Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton.
Nugent-Hopkins has spent the majority of his hockey career playing in Alberta or Western Canada. With the Burnaby Winter Club U15 A1, Nugent-Hopkins picked up a staggering 214 points in 66 games played, in the Pacific Coast Bantam Hockey League.
He also spent his junior career in the province of Alberta. Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall in the Western Hockey League draft, going to the Red Deer Rebels. During his time in the WHL, Nugent-Hopkins scored 177 points in 141 career games.
The window of opportunity for Edmonton is currently open. With Nugent-Hopkins re-signing, the team has a ton of returning pieces for next season. Of course, McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the heavyweights, but Kyle Turris, James Neal and Darnell Nurse are all signed for next season.
Edmonton will select 19th overall at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. 1988 was the last time Edmonton drafted 19th overall, selecting Francois Leroux in the first round from the St. Jean Castors.
The present-day Oilers competed in the North Division but were embarrassingly bounced in the playoffs. With key returnees and the potential to sign unrestricted free agents in the off-season, Holland and the rest of the Oilers’ front office believes their time to win is now.
Nugent-Hopkins was an important signing for the club, but don’t expect them to be done just yet as the Oilers go all-in with the core of this team.