On June 29, the Edmonton Oilers signed forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to an eight-year contract extension worth $41 million. The deal includes a no-trade clause, setting the 28-year-old up to wear orange and blue through the 2028-29 season.
Nugent-Hopkins has already played 10 seasons for the Oilers, and if he remains in Edmonton for the duration of his new contract, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft will have the opportunity to reach several milestones, some that are yet to be achieved in the Oilers’ 41 seasons in the NHL. Here’s a look at what Nugent-Hopkins could accomplish in the years to come:
Oiler For Life
There has never been a player who spent his entire career with the Oilers – at least, not anyone with a career that was more than a cup of coffee.
Of course, there have been players like Peter Eriksson, whose NHL career consisted of 20 games with the Oilers in 1988-89, or Alex Plante, who totaled 11 appearances for the Oilers over three seasons from 2009-10 and 2011-12. But there’s never been anyone along the lines of Joe Sakic, who played in different cities but only for one franchise over 20 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, or Bob Gainey, a member of the Montreal Canadiens from his first game in 1973 to his last shift in 1989.
The closest the Oilers have is Kevin Lowe and Ryan Smyth. Lowe began his Hall-of-Fame career with the Oilers in 1979 and retired as an Oiler in 1998 but spent four seasons with the Rangers from 1992 to 1996. Smyth made his NHL debut for Edmonton in the 1994-95 season and spent his final season with the Oilers in 2013-14, but his 15 years in Edmonton are sandwiched around stints with the New York Islanders, Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings.
His new eight-year deal positions Nugent-Hopkins to be that one-and-only true-blue Oiler that the franchise has never had. There are, of course, plenty of “ifs”; the first being that he plays these next eight years in Edmonton.
Then there are the questions of whether Nugent-Hopkins plays beyond 2029, and where that might be. When his current contract expires, he will have turned 36 and could very well still have some gas left in the tank. He could also just as easily be happy calling it a career and getting into the horse business full-time.
This milestone is pretty straight-forward: Nugent-Hopkins has spent 10 seasons with the Oilers, his contract extension is for eight, add the two and you get 18, which is actually three more than the current record of 15 seasons, shared by Lowe (1979-80 – 1991-92, 1996-97 – 1997-98) and Smyth (1994-95 – 2003-04, 2005-06 – 2006-07, 2011-12 – 2013-14). Nugent-Hopkins’ record-breaking 16th season as an Oiler would theoretically be 2026-27.
Nugent-Hopkins has been one of Edmonton’s alternate captains for the last seven seasons, which is already the franchise record for wearing an “A.” It is also tied for the most seasons that a player has been part of the Oilers’ leadership group, either captain or an alternate.
The latter mark is shared by Doug Weight (two seasons as captain, five as alternate), Jason Smith (five seasons as captain, two as alternate), and Shawn Horcoff (three seasons as captain, four as alternate). Assuming Nugent-Hopkins maintains his place next season as one of the alternates alongside current captain Connor McDavid, he will be the first Oiler to serve eight seasons in an official leadership role.
Games Played Record
Nugent-Hopkins currently ranks 12th in franchise history with 656 games played, 381 behind all-time leader Lowe (1037). Over his 10 seasons, he has appeared in 87.6% of Edmonton’s games, which projects to 72 over a normal 82-game schedule. If he plays an average of 72 games per season, he will overtake Lowe early in the 2026-27 season.
Assuming Nugent-Hopkins plays the next eight years with the Oilers, he would only need to average 48 games per season to pass Lowe. If he doesn’t miss any games, the earliest he could catch Lowe would be about two-thirds through Edmonton’s 2025-26 schedule.
Shots on Goal Record
The iconic Wayne Gretzky sits atop many Oilers’ career leaderboards, in most cases far beyond the reach of any mere mortal. But his 2,787 shots on goal is one of Gretzky’s few Oilers records that is not totally untouchable.
With 1,553 shots as an Oiler, Nugent-Hopkins is already seventh all-time and first among active players. He’s averaged 2.36 shots on goal per game so far in his career. Supposing he plays 82 games every season and averages 2 shots per game, Nugent-Hopkins would surpass Gretzky midway through Edmonton’s 2028-29 schedule. More realistically, if he plays 72 games per season, he would need to average 2.15 shots per game to surpass Gretzky before this eight-year deal runs out.
There are just four players who have scored 300 goals as an Oiler: Gretzky (583), Jari Kurri (474), Glenn Anderson (417), and Mark Messier (392). With 185 goals, Nugent-Hopkins is tied with two-time Stanley Cup champion Craig Simpson for ninth on the Oilers’ all-time list.
Over his 10 seasons, Nugent Hopkins has produced a rate of 23.13 goals per 82 games and scored at least 18 goals in all seven seasons he’s played at least 62 games.
To reach 300 in the next eight seasons, Nugent-Hopkins would need to average 14.4 goals per season. If he can score 18 goals per season, Nugent-Hopkins would arrive at 300 goals in 2027-28.
Nugent-Hopkins’ teammates Leon Draisaitl (199 goals for Edmonton) and McDavid (195) are also on pace to reach 300 goals before their current contracts expire.
Gretzky (1,086), Messier (642), and Kurri (569) are the only players with 500 or more assists on Edmonton’s career leaders list. Nugent-Hopkins sits 12th all-time with 293 helpers, averaging 36.63 assists per 82 games over his NHL career. To reach 500 helpers by the end of his new contract, Nugent-Hopkins would need to average 25.88 per season.
Edmonton’s 500-assist club could potentially double its membership over the next several seasons, with McDavid (379) and Draisaitl (307) also reaching that benchmark.
As one of only 15 individuals to spend a decade or more with the Oilers in the NHL, Nugent-Hopkins is already among exclusive company.
For a guy that’s never really been the star of the show at Rogers Place and is now at best the Robin to McDavid and Draisaitl’s Superman and Batman, Nugent-Hopkins has quietly begun etching his name in the Oilers record book. Just imagine how many pages his name might appear on eight years from now.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.