Rumor: Talks between Oilers and Ryan Nugent Hopkins have turned ugly.

A potential problem for the Oilers.


The Edmonton Oilers have just come off an extremely disappointing playoff run, one in which they were eliminated in embarrassing fashion in the first round at the hands of Canadian rivals the Winnipeg Jets, and unfortunately it sounds like things may get worse before they get better.

National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman was recently a guest on Sportsnet 960 radio in Calgary and he was asked about the future of several Oilers. Friedman touched on several of the players he expects will be signed by the Oilers in the offseason, but perhaps his most interesting comments came when he touched on the topic of pending free agent Ryan Nugent Hopkins, a player that it would appear Friedman is not convinced will remain in Edmonton beyond this season.

"I gotta tell you, that one has been tough," said Friedman during a recent segment with Boomer in the Morning. "They were really close before the season started and it fell apart at the last second. I don't know what's gonna happen there. Whatever was on the table then I am not convinced is on the table now and we're gonna have to see. That is a negotiation that went sideways and they've tried again a couple of times and I really don't know how to handicap that one, I really don't."

Although Friedman did not go into great detail as to why he thinks there has been a split between Nugent Hopkins and the Oilers, he did hint at the fact that something occurred that resulted in the negotiations getting uglier than anyone would have liked. Friedman specifically used the word "mangled" when describing what went down.

"Something happened here," added Friedman. "I believe it was always the plan that Nugent Hopkins was gonna stay and they wanted to keep him. Anyone who is familiar with the situation will tell you that they thought it was going to happen and it just got mangled, and now I don't know."

For Oilers fans who are concerned about seeing another first round pick potentially leave the organization, there is perhaps a silver lining here. Given the cap issues teams will be facing under the flat cap moving forward, Friedman believes this is far from being a doomsday scenario for the organization.

"I do think they see value inside Nugent Hopkins in the organization, I do think they were trying to sign him, but if he walks I think just saying 'Ok we'll take the $6 million in cap room and do something with it' I don't think that's the end of the world. Now you gotta do something with it that is useful, but I don't look at it that way anymore. I think cap space is a weapon, especially where we're going, and sometimes you may have to do that as a strategy."

Friedman would go on to add that he personally does not see the move to let Nugent Hopkins walk in order to free up cap space as a terrible strategy, even going so far as to suggest that the Oilers may have had this in their back pocket as a contingency plan all along. The question now is of course if he does indeed leave as a free agent, how will that cap space be weaponized by general manager Ken Holland.