The Edmonton Oilers’ Long Dance with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal: Again, it appears that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a good deal of leverage. Ken Holland has little if anything when it comes to filling the top-six left winger role. If Holland allows Nugent-Hopkins to leave, he has yet another slot to fill.
What can Holland afford to pay the forward is another question entirely? One thing the general manager has going for him is the wingers’ inconsistency. His numbers are a little erratic. Nugent-Hopkins driving play does not happen.
When he was centering the second line, it was a disaster. When he was paired with Kailer Yamamoto and Leon Draisaitl (Draisaitl is a play driver), things went much smoother. The offense returned in a big way as well.
His power-play talent is still undisputed. Now, how many years at around $6 million AAV do you pay Nugent-Hopkins? That is the question on a player whose peak may have been at 26. Two years later and there has been a little decline. How much more of a drop is there to come and how fast? In the meantime, the parties grind to a solution.
The Edmonton Oilers depth line PROBLEM
Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal: Edmonton’s 5-on-5 goal share is just 34.8%. Everyone knows it is a problem but few seem to have any worthwhile solutions. With that bottom depth giving up 21 more goals than they scored, Edmonton wound up -1 at goal differential when it came to even strength.
On special teams, this is an Edmonton team that outscored opponents by 30. Fix the bottom six and Edmonton becomes a power. When Jordan Eberle and Mark Letestu did not return after the 2016-17 season, that left a gaping hole that was never rectified.
Ken Holland brought back Devin Shore but again he has a goal share of around 35% himself. He was not exactly a solution as he was more of the same problem. Holland must find a couple of players that can tilt this negative into more of a positive.