According to Yahoo's hockey blog "Puck Daddy", Center and former #1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be on the trade block of the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers continue to lose after the injury of the next "great one" Connor McDavid who will be out for another few months. Edmonton finished the month of November at 4-9 and currently are tied with the Calgary Flames for last place in the West at 20 points.
With defense still being the glaring issue in Edmonton giving up the second most goals in the NHL with 79, the Oilers may have to use a center piece on offense to improve on defense.
Kind of vice versa to what the Sabres did.
Being extremely deep at center with McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitil, and Anton Lander, Edmonton may want to consider trading one (Not McDavid) to get a top defender.
Reports from Puck Daddy say that Nugent-Hopkins has been the name floating around in trade rumors.
Sportsnet's Mark Spector had much to say about a potential trade saying
"In ‘soft skill,’ I say when they’re not scoring and producing lots of points and chances, there’s nothing left for them to do, right? They don’t accomplish anything else. Eberle is never going to have a night where you go, ‘Well, he didn’t produce much but, boy, he should ground the other team down.’ He’s just not that player. And Nugent-Hopkins is soft skill as well, and I’m going to say to you when Peter Chiarelli finally does pull the trigger and when he looks at his core and says, ‘OK, we can afford to miss this guy, we can afford to lose that guy,’ the guys that go out are going to be soft skill, like a (Teddy) Purcell, like an Eberle, like a Nugent-Hopkins, like a (Nail) Yakupov"
What he said is self explanatory. These forwards are all similar, it wouldn't hurt to get rid of one "soft" forward that has offensive talent to get a grinder at defense.
Money isn't the issue with Nugent-Hopkins if anyone was wondering. He is only set to make a little more than $487,000 according to war-on-ice.com
Now who may want Nugent-Hopkins? Probably anyone at the right price.
Right now it seems the only trade could end up being with the New York Islanders who may want to move Travis Hamonic. Hamonic has 7 points in 26 games with a +7 rating.
According to Puck Daddy however, New York would want a defender in return. Edmonton can't afford that price.
I don't see Edmonton making a move like this. At least not with Nugent-Hopkins. Look what happened when Boston got rid of Tyler Seguin.
Yes Gretzky was traded before so anyone can, but with the youth and talent of Nugent-Hopkins, I would advise finding someone else to trade. Perhaps Jordan Eberle. Although the defense is struggling, they still have some future play makers at the position in Griffin Reinahrt and Darnell Nurse.
According to Fox Sports 1's Darren Dreger, he believes Edmonton has four players that are not available for trade. Those players are Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Taylor Hall, and Leon Draisaitil.
How is Nugent-Hopkins not just as valuable as the others listed?
Perhaps higher play at goaltender may help out as well.
17 points for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is as steady as you can get for what will be a #2 center when McDavid comes back. He also has a 10.98 Corsi rating per 60 minutes.
The center also has had a lot of success on the power play. Nugent-Hopkins has 8 points on the power play. He averages 9 shots per 60 minutes on the man advantage. Hard to make such an impactful player on offense expendable for a defenseman.
It would have to take more than just that if I were the GM of Edmonton.
Could the Sabres make a trade for Nugent-Hopkins?- Not likely. The Sabres are deep at center on offense. If anything Buffalo needs another young defenseman like the Oilers do.
So no this isn't a "Could the Sabres trade for Nugent-Hopkins" type article that I normally write.
Just knowing that I wouldn't want the Sabres to trade a 22 year old center with the potential to be one of the league's best, I would hope Edmonton takes an alternative route.
Nugent-Hopkins is the only player on Edmonton to break even on both shot and goal differential.
Here are pictures of the Oiler's stats with and without RNH on the ice. (Pictures from TSN.ca)
Use someone else as a chip Oilers! This is a #1 center in the making. You have an incredible luxury of having both McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins. Build around them!
We shall see if these rumors carry any weight.
Not every player is going to have the combination of skill that Nugent Hopkins has, and the size that he does not possess.
Edmonton may be splitting hairs if they are trying to force a trade.
Continue to draft defenders and try to use Eberle who has Nugent-Hopkins's same issues of quote on quote being "soft".
I will be my own devils advocate for a moment, reports state that the Islanders would not be interested in dealing Hamonic for Eberle. Still. Nugent-Hopkins is too steep of a price. Edmonton could find another team who would love the services of a Eberle.
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Buffalo did use Nikita Zadorov to get a proven forward in Ryan O'Reilly.
The difference however is that Nugent-Hopkins isn't a raw, young center with upside but hasn't developed in the NHL. Last season Nugent-Hopkins had 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points in 76 games. That was with the third worst team in the NHL.
Get a grip Oilers. Don't trade away a soon to be top forward in the NHL to build your defense. Edmonton has the resources to improve on defense through the draft, and with other assets on the other team.
If Edmonton could get a proven defender, they may pull the trigger on a deal. Time will tell.