Cap Comparables: Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins inks unique contract

Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins says it's nice to hear the positive comments from GM Ken Holland after the two sides reached a long-term contract, and says he's excited to be part of a winning team for years to come.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins appears set to be a lifetime member of the Edmonton Oilers after the centre, who was a pending unrestricted free agent, inked an eight-year contract extension worth $41 million on Tuesday.

Nugent-Hopkins’s new salary cap hit is $5.125 million annually, which is a slight pay cut from the $6 million he made in each of the past seven years.

The 28-year-old likely could’ve earned a more lucrative cap hit were he to test the open market, but that extra eighth year and remaining with the team that selected him first overall back in 2011 were key factors in getting the deal done.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the signing is the full no-movement clause included all the way through to the 2028-29 season when the contract expires.

Nugent-Hopkins recorded 16 goals and 19 assists in 52 games this past regular season, adding one goal and one assist in the playoffs as the Oilers were swept by the Winnipeg Jets.

The Burnaby, B.C., native ranks third in games played (656), fifth in goals (185) and sixth in both assists (293) and total points (478) from the 2011 draft class.

Although he has never been a point-per-game producer or a Hart Trophy contender like many other top selections, Nugent-Hopkins has been a versatile top-six forward for the Oilers since making his NHL debut.

If the league’s salary cap increases in the years to come – as many expect it will – his new price tag will become even more advantageous for general manager Ken Holland and Oilers brass.

Nugent-Hopkins is the 20th UFA eligible forward to sign either a seven- or eight-year contract in the past five calendar years.

He is currently the youngest of all those players and has the lowest average annual value (AAV). His $5.125-million hit amounts to just 6.3 per cent of his team’s total cap at the time of the signing.

Here are those 20 players, ordered from highest to lowest AAV with their age at the time of the signing in parentheses:

– Artemi Panarin (27) seven years, $11.642M cap hit through 2026
– John Tavares (27) seven years, $11M cap hit through 2025
– Tyler Seguin (27) eight years, $9.85M cap hit through 2027
– Mark Stone (27) eight years, $9.5M cap hit through 2027
– Jamie Benn (27) eight years, $9.5M cap hit through 2025
– Jeff Skinner (27) eight years, $9M cap hit through 2027
– Steven Stamkos (26) eight years, $8.5M cap hit through 2024
– Matt Duchene (29) seven years, $8M cap hit through 2026
– Logan Couture (30) eight years, $8M cap hit through 2027
– Kevin Hayes (27) seven years, $7.142M cap hit through 2026
– Anders Lee (28) seven years, $7M cap hit through 2026
– Evander Kane (26) seven years, $7M cap hit through 2025
– Brayden Schenn (28) eight years, $6.5M cap hit through 2028
– Chris Kreider (29) seven years, $6.5M cap hit through 2027
– Brad Marchand (29) eight years, $6.125M cap hit through 2025
– Milan Lucic (28) seven years, $6M cap hit through 2023
– Kyle Okposo (28) seven years, $6M cap hit through 2023
– T.J. Oshie (30) eight years, $5.75M cap hit through 2025
– Andrew Ladd (30) seven years, $5.5M cap hit through 2023
– Nugent-Hopkins (28) eight years, $5.125M cap hit through 2029

It’s clear from the list above that Marchand has the best value, while it could be difficult for a player like Skinner to live up to the high cap hit he earned following a career-best 40-goal season.

Duchene is the only player with an AAV of $8-million or more that doesn’t have either a full no-movement or no-trade clause for the duration of his deal. The Predators forward does have a modified no-trade clause that applies to the final three years of his contract.

Panarin, Tavares, Seguin, Stone, Benn, Skinner, Stamkos and Nugent-Hopkins are the only players whose deals have full no-movement clauses that last the entirety of the contract. That’s what really what sets Nugent-Hopkins's deal apart from the others on the bottom half of the list.

Players on long-term deals with cap hits similar to the Oilers forward who aren't RFA eligible when they sign them are rarely, if ever, granted the full NMC. The 10-year, $60-million extension centre Jordan Staal signed with the Hurricanes back in 2012 had a full NMC and is similar to Nugent-Hopkins's. Also, the six-year deal goalie Jacob Markstrom got from the Flames came with a full NMC. Staal and Markstrom both have cap hits of $6 million annually.

“If we’d have lost Nuge, it would have been a massive loss,” Holland told reporters Tuesday. “No contract is perfect. I’m sure Ryan would like to have a bigger cap number, and I’d like to have less term.”

All contract figures are via CapFriendly

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