The Edmonton Oilers are all-in on their young stars.
On Thursday, the club announced it had agreed to a seven-year, $42 million extension for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the club’s first-round (and first overall) pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Nugent-Hopkins, 20, will carry an average annual cap hit of $6 million with the new deal, an identical figure to the ones held by Jordan Eberle (signed through 2019) and Taylor Hall (signed through 2020).
The RNH extension kicks in next season t and runs through 2020-21 campaign but, as Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports, the deal comes without no-trade/movement clauses (Eberle and Hall don’t have them either).
It’s a bold move from Edmonton, banking on Nugent-Hopkins’ undeniable skill and his ability to overcome health issues.
Both of his first two seasons in the NHL have been cut short due to shoulder issues. His rookie campaign was limited to just 62 games after undergoing a season-ending shoulder procedure, yet he still managed to put up 52 points and finish as one of the three nominees for the Calder Trophy.
Last season, he was held to just 40 games — undergoing shoulder surgery in April — and saw his production dip (24 points, a 0.60 points-per-game average).
But there is reason for optimism. RHN recently said he’s “put on a few pounds” and is currently tipping the scales at between 180 and 185 pounds, which could theoretically help in being able to survive the physical rigors of a full NHL season.
In addition, he’s been working on his shot this offseason, with good results.
“My shot feels great,” he said. “It feels probably a little bit better than last year even.”
Of course, the Oilers are going to have to wait a while to see that shot in action. Nugent-Hopkins isn’t expected to make his 2013-14 debut until November.