Things have gone bad to worse for the Edmonton Oilers. After a disappointing playoff run that saw them ousted in a sweep in the first round, team management is now struggling on another front: when it comes to re-signing top forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
A few weeks ago, insider Elliotte Friedman was 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 RNH, 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.”
Friedman did not go into great detail as to why he thinks there has been a split between Nugent Hopkins and the Oilers, but 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.”
On Tuesday, Friedman did not have better news or more details on what’s happening between the free agent and the Oilers. However, his one sentence in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet says a lot:
“Edmonton and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are grinding to find common ground.”
Earlier in April, Frank Seravalli had also pointed out that both parties had hit a wall after making the forward an unflattering offer.
We all know money could be an issue in Edmonton, especially in another flattened cap season. GM Ken Holland will need to be careful with his wallet. RNH isn’t the only asset in the final year of his contract…Defenseman Adam Larsson was in the final year of a six-year, $25 million contract and can also become a UFA this July. The Oilers have just under $25 million in salary cap space next season with Kailer Yamamoto as their only major pending restricted free agent in need of a new contract.
The grind continues… but for how long?