The Columbus Blue Jackets Should Acquire Ryan-Nugent Hopkins

Ryan Nugent Hopkins

There have been rumors circulating as of late that the Columbus Blue Jackets are interested in acquiring a center. While this comes as no surprise to anyone, there is one option that could quickly turn them into a more serious Stanley Cup Contender: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Columbus Blue Jackets Should Acquire Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

There are multiple reasons why Nugent-Hopkins would instantly make Columbus a contender, aside from the obvious fact that he is just a very good hockey player. To fully understand how, and why, the Blue Jackets would acquire him, we need to take a look at the pros and cons of Nugent-Hopkins.

What Nugent-Hopkins Would Improve

The first thing that comes to mind, and the most obvious, is the need for another 1C/2C in the Columbus roster. While Alexander Wennberg is a great top six center, and arguably a 1C, he needs another center to help carry the load. Adding Nugent-Hopkins as the 2C would lighten the load Wennberg is currently carrying.

While the Blue Jackets did draft Pierre-Luc Dubois to eventually transition to center, he isn’t ready to do that in a top six capacity. And with Brandon Dubinsky no longer playing at that level either, it is showing the Jackets one true weakness: a need for a top six center. This is something Nugent-Hopkins would immediately fix.

The second thing that comes to mind would be the ailing powerplay of Columbus. Currently operating at a less than pedestrian 9.7%, good for 31st in the NHL, they are in need of help. Having Nugent-Hopkins would help to take a step in the right direction.

While he isn’t an elite powerplay center, he is certainly able to slot into one of the two powerplay units immediately. He has had double digit powerplay points in every season throughout his career, proving he could help to bring the sometimes utterly unwatchable powerplay of the Jackets back into respectability.

Another note would be his style of play. While he isn’t likely to light up the stat sheet, he could fit in well. He is a solid two-way center that can push the 60 point mark. This is something the Blue Jackets would greatly benefit from having.

When you look at these few arguments, it can more than justify what is likely going to be a hefty price tag. However, there are a few downsides to this hypothetical deal.

Cons of Trading for Nugent-Hopkins

The most obvious would be the price tag. Nugent-Hopkins is having a great season, and this is only going to push his price tag even higher.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Nugent-Hopkins would not assess the need of Columbus to have a quality face-off winner. While he is operating at 50.29% in 2017-18, he is a career 43.6% in the dot. This will not help the already sub-par Columbus squad.

The last thing to think on, and this can be somewhat easily addressed, is the $6 million cap hit he carries through the 2020-21 season. Columbus currently has just over $5 million in cap space, so trading just about anyone for Nugent-Hopkins would allow them to bring him in.

This would, however, mean that the Blue Jackets would have $16.75 million of cap space tied up in Wennberg, Nugent-Hopkins, and Dubinsky. There are surely worst cases to be in, but they would have to be smart moving forward to avoid this becoming a serious issue.

Why the Blue Jackets Should Do This and Who They Could Offer

Overall, Nugent-Hopkins looks to be the best option that is open for deals. With other names being tossed out there, Nugent-Hopkins looks to be the better of the current options for multiple reasons.

While he would not assess the issue on the face-off dot for Columbus, he does bring a lot of positives with him. He would instantly improve an ailing powerplay, would finally give the Jackets the 1C/2C they are in need of, and all of this comes at a relatively reasonable price of $6 million per season for another three years.

As for who they could offer, that’s another question all on its own. With the Edmonton Oilers having a rough season, they would likely be looking for help on the blue line. They have currently allowed 76 goals, the fifth worst in the league.

Luckily for Columbus, this is a place that they can afford to part with someone. Offering any of the current bottom three defenseman of Ryan Murray, Gabriel Carlsson or Markus Nutivaara along with a future draft pick or a forward prospect would likely entice the Oilers and not bankrupt the Blue Jackets.

While this surely would be a high price to pay for center with a career high of 56 points, it would assess many of the weaknesses Columbus is currently facing. Adding Nugent-Hopkins would surely make Columbus a serious contender.

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  1. No they should not trade for RNH. He is overrated and over paid. The Jackets are in first olace and they are still the youngest team in the league. Stick to the plan and keep developing. Trading Murray or Nutivaara would be a huge mistake. Jury is still out on Carlsson, but this team just built it’s blue line up and the last thing they need to do is tear it back down with a bad trade. If the CBJ do trade for a C, they need one who can create scoring and win faceoffs. Nuge does neither.

    • I will agree with the assessment that they need a center who can consistently win face-offs. However, RNH could easily be a 60 point C that still plays a two-way game. While $6 million as a cap hit is a bit hefty, the Blue Jackets could easily maneuver it over the course of the contract. Who would you suggest as another option?

      • Faceoffs are one of the most overrated things in judging a centre’s play.

        1) The difference between a 40% and a 50% faceoff guy is about 2 face-offs per game. The amount of time a won face-off effects corsi, is for the first 6 seconds after a faceoff. It has far less impact than people give it credit for. On average 1 of those 2 faceoffs per game will be a neutral zone draw, which is really not that important.

        2) A faceoff is just a 50/50 puck battle. Hundreds of which happen every game. Unfortunately we track faceoffs, but we don’t track every other fifty fifty play over the course of a game. On top of that, while some offensive chances come directly off a faceoff, the fact that players are drilled on faceoffs so often and are already in the right positions and covering their man, means that this is less likely to create an offensive chance then a battle for a loose puck in the corner.

        Give me a centre who plays a stronger two-way game with and without the puck, and you can have the guy with the better faceoff percentage every day of the week. No one cares that Malkin, and Couture, and Schiefele are all weak on faceoff percentage.

  2. You’d let me know if you suffered a stroke, right? You even admit in the article that his faceoff woes are over (thanks to the new rules) and he’s putting up points. After admitting that, you think a 6 million dollar, good 2 way C who’s a former #1 overall pick and just 24yrs old (and you say in the article is a 1-2C) can be had for the “steep” price of a bottom 3 defenseman and a pick? What would he fetch on an off year? Columbus is a good team so that pick would be in the 20-30 range at best. A 20-30th pick and a 6-7-8 Dman for Ryan Nugent Hopkins? Yeah, let me know how that goes.
    And somehow the other commenter thinks that price is too steep?…..There are no words. I double dog dare you to post an article like this (and for Phil to leave that comment) on a popular site where the readers have a lot of hockey knowledge. You say this is because Edmonton needed help on the back end. When the Oilers traded a first line winger, a winger, for a really solid 2-3 Dman Edmonton nearly rioted, yet a 1-2C is worth a bottom 3 and a middling pick? Good Lord.

    • 1) Nugent Hopkins isn’t a 1C with Columbus.

      2) I never said anything about the new face-off rule helping him on the dot. It’s early, so who knows if he sustains that percentage.

      3) the bottom three defenseman for Columbus are only bottom three because they have defenseman like Zach Werenski, Seth Jones and David Savard ahead of them. All three of them, barring Carlsson due to small sample size, could easily be second pairing or possibly better on multiple other teams. Both Murray (young, early draft pick, playing well) and Nutivaara (young, cheap, playing well) would both slot in on the second pairing for Edmonton.

      4) Steep is a relative term from respective viewpoint. For Columbus it would be steep, for Edmonton, maybe not.

      A lot of your criticism is based off assumptions your making, not off anything I’ve actually said and/or inferred in the article.

      I also think the comment that our readers are somehow less knowledgeable is a gross assumption that you have literally no way of verifying.

      Thank you for your feedback, even if it is somewhat false.

  3. I don’t agree that Murray would be a 2nd pair in Edmonton. He plays left D and right now the oilers are running Nurse on the top pair, which he is excelling at, and Klefbom on the 2nd. Murray isn’t betting then either. Also Sekera(LHD) is returning next week from LTIR.

    I think the Oilers would want something like Anderson and Carlsson for RNH.

    • I was using Murray as an example, although I do feel he would excel in Edmonton and could very well be a second pairing defenseman for them. However, Carlsson would be a less immediate fix for them and would likely become a second pairing/top four defenseman for them in the next two years, if his development isn’t hindered. He will never wow anyone, but he is a solid shutdown, stay at home, big-bodied defenseman that can get the job done.

      In regards to Anderson, that is unlikely. I find it hard to believe the Columbus front office would do so much in the off-season to guarantee his safety in the expansion draft and look past the contract dispute to deal him away in a trade that would be lopsided in many ways (Anderson, Carlsson for RNH). This is coming from someone who understands, and appreciates, the type of center that can play a responsible two-way game consistently and push 60 points.

      I think a more realistic option, if Carlsson was involved, would be Carlsson and someone like Hannikainen or a decent pick.


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