The Edmonton Oilers have had a rather interesting offseason all really revolving around their limited salary cap space and trying to put together the best team possible in 2023.
First, their big move came on draft day when the Oilers sent Zack Kassian and his 3.2 million dollar cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the 29th overall pick and a second and third-round pick in later drafts. In return, the Oilers got the 32nd overall pick in the 2022 draft and they picked Reid Schaefer with that pick.
The next big piece of news had to be Duncan Keith retiring. In doing so the Oilers were spared his 5 million dollar cap hit for this season which made it possible to sign Evander Kane to a four-year 5.125 million dollar annual contract.
Now the Oilers sit with no cap space, a new goaltender in Jack Campbell and a roster ready to go out and try to win now. Realistically, the Oilers have the next two to three seasons to win as Draisaitl will be up after the 2024-25 season and it is going to be hard to re-sign him if the team hasn’t won anything up to that point and the same is going to be true for McDavid who will be out of a contract at the end of the 2025-26 season.
The Oilers have their work to do. They have players like Ryan McLeod, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto all still without contracts, the only way they are going to get all those players re-signed is if they move out another big contract, but they are running out of contracts to move.
Kane, Nugent-Hopkins, Hyman, Draisaitl and McDavid all have no movement clauses. On the backend, the Oilers have more options with guys like Barrie, Ceci and Kulak all with significant contracts without no-movement clauses. The issue is you can’t move any of those players off of the defense because they are going to need all of them.
This brings me to the point of this article, the one contract the Edmonton Oilers have to be regretting right now belongs to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins signed a massive eight-year 41 million dollar contract last summer on June 29, 2021. The deal included a no movement clause the entire time and gave him a cap hit of 5.125 a season.
He then scored 11 goals this past season in 63 games putting up 39 assists along the way. Nugent-Hopkins is definitely someone the Oilers want to keep in their organization as he is the longest-serving Oiler up to this point and is going to go down in history playing the most games in the franchise.
He had a productive postseason putting up 14 points in 16 games but nonetheless, I do think the team has to be regretting the contract that Ken Holland handed out to him.
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The Oilers cannot trade Nugent-Hopkins not only because he has a no-movement clause but also because very few teams are going to jump at the opportunity to take a 29-year-old who still has seven years on his deal worth 5.125 million a season.
Edmonton is in a tough spot right now with three young players all available to sign with the team if they create a bit more cap space. It will be interesting to see what the team does next.