Oilers News & Rumors: Nugent-Hopkins, Kassian, Neal, Kahun, Klefbom, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there’s a big development when it comes to an extension for forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers and the player have come to terms on a massive deal. There’s also talk about the NHL Expansion Draft, but not really when it comes to Nugent-Hopkins. No, Zack Kassian is getting all the attention here. Finally, there’s buzz about Oscar Klefbom, Dominik Kahun, Mikko Koskinen and James Neal.

Nugent-Hopkins Signs 8-Year Deal with Oilers

NHL insiders like Elliotte Friedman covered the news Tuesday morning, while Oilers correspondent for TSN, Ryan Rishaug broke the story that Nugent-Hopkins was set to sign an eight-year, $41 million deal today. The deal Includes a no-movement clause and will see the player remain a part of the Oilers organization until the age of 36. The signing became official in the afternoon.

For the most part, the response from the fan base is positive. Nugent-Hopkins is a strong two-way top six forward whose results have gotten better since the Oilers decided not to force him into the role of a shut-down center. There are some concerns over a dip in 5-v-5 scoring this past season, but he’s still got the ability to play alongside Connor McDavid and/or Leon Draisaitl and he’s a huge part of the Oilers’ special teams, getting both first-unit power play and penalty kill time.

A player of his skill set and age should have no problem contributing for at least the first five years of this deal. He’ll be offering value at the $5.1 million mark per season. Jonathan Willis of The Athletic writes, “83 percent of his healthy peers were still scoring at an impressive rate at age 33.” He adds, “One conclusion: RNH is somewhat protected from atypical NHL aging curve because “at worst should be able to add value on the power play and penalty kill even if he loses a gear in 5-on-5 action.” Older players tend to hang on to special teams ability longer than 5v5 ability.”

The contract breaks down as follows:

  • 21-22: $5M salary
  • 22-23: $5.25M salary
  • 23-24: $6.25M salary
  • 24-25: $6.25M salary
  • 25-26: $4M salary plus $2M signing bonus
  • 26-27: $2.25M salary plus $2.5M signing bonus
  • 27-28: $2.5M salary plus $1.25M signing bonus
  • 28-29: $3.75M salary

As Jack Michaels points out, Nugent-Hopkins could conceivably break Kevin Lowe’s all-time record for games played in the 5th year of this contract.

Kassian To Be Protected During Expansion Draft

Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer tweeted Monday his projected protection list for the Oilers at this year’s NHL Expansion Draft. He had Nugent-Hopkins among the names that would need protecting (which apparently he pegged dead on), but he also included Zack Kassian’s name on the list. Needless to say, that prediction was met with a polarizing reaction.

Zack Kassian Edmonton Oilers
Zack Kassian, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Some argue that Kassian has skill, speed, size and a physical mean streak the Oilers would sorely miss if plucked away during the draft. Others suggest that it would be insanely ludicrous to protect a $3.2 million player who hasn’t given the Oilers much since signing his new deal. The argument is that a cheaper forward can be signed if he’s plucked away by Seattle.

Where do you sit on Kassian? Is he someone the Oilers should use a protection spot on? Or, would Edmonton be lucky if Seattle took care of less-than ideal contract situation?

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Maple Leafs, Flyers, Predators, Kraken, More

Klefbom and Other Quick Oilers Hits

As per Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation, there are few smaller updates on some of the players the Oilers will have to make decisions on this summer. The big news, based on conversations Gregor had with sources who might know, “I’d say it is very unlikely Klefbom would be ready to start the season. One source said, “I think it is 95% that he won’t play again.”

Here are a few other tidbits worth noting:

  • He notes he doesn’t expect Edmonton to qualify Dominik Kahun. Because they need to qualify Jujhar Khaira at $1.3 million. “I think they’d like to re-sign him at a lower AAV than that.”
  • He expects James Neal to be bought out or traded. Obviously, the preference would be to trade the player, even if Edmonton needs to retain salary. That would be preferable to having two years of $1.91 million in dead cap space in 2022/2023 and 2023/2024. A buyout is the most likely scenario.
  • Gregor does not think the Oilers will buy out goaltender Mikko Koskinen. With only one year remaining, there’s nothing to note that he’s an absolute disaster of a signing, thus he’s not a priority problem worth taking on new issues to resolve. They could try to trade him or demote him if he struggles.