Detroit Red Wings Should Kick the Tires on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 10: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 10, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Oilers 1-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Various reports indicate that the Edmonton Oilers would entertain trade offers for the former first-overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Agreeing to terms of an acceptable deal could prove to be challenging. However, the Detroit Red Wings should at least see what it would take to bring Nugent-Hopkins to The Motor City.

Detroit Red Wings Should Kick the Tires on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Detroit is in desperate need of an upgrade at the center position. After Dylan Larkin, the group of players at that position screams “upgrade”.

Nugent-Hopkins would indeed provide that upgrade at center. Although he may not be living up to the high expectations of a former first-overall pick, he can still be a valuable asset who could thrive in a new environment.

At 24-years-old, Nugent-Hopkins has recorded 106 goals and 180 assists in 425 games. At this point in the 2017-18 season, he has scored more goals (11) than all but one Detroit player. Having him as your number-two center behind Larkin would provide the Red Wings with a good foundation to create a solid top-six for the present and future.

Admittedly, Nugent-Hopkins’s salary is far from friendly. He is on the books until the summer of 2021, bringing with him a $6M annual cap hit. Committing that kind of money for that term can always make teams a little nervous. However, it is important to remember that Nugent-Hopkins is only 24 with a lot of good years still ahead of him.

What About the Rebuild?

On the surface, bringing in a player like Nugent-Hopkins with that type of contract may look like the opposite of rebuilding. The idea of roster makeover usually involves getting rid of the lengthy and expensive contracts for prospects and draft picks. However, acquiring Nugent-Hopkins would very much be a part of a rebuild in Detroit and could speed it up.

Part of a rebuild involves addressing a team’s needs and making improvements in those areas. Talented depth at the center position is certainly a need for the Red Wings and RNH would definitely provide an upgrade. Yes, the contract is lengthy but that also means that Detroit could have him as a member of their core for an extended period of time. Of course, this could result in a shorter rebuilding period.

Only if the Price is Right

Acquiring a player such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could prove to be beneficial for the Red Wings. However, it would only be a smart move to make if it were for the right price.

As we all know, Detroit has to put its franchise through a rebuild. This means developing a prospect pool that can one day lead this organization back to the promise land. Ken Holland should not risk this team’s future any more than he already has by dealing away a prospect of great value. However, Edmonton’s general manager, Peter Chiarelli, has been known to make his fair share of bonehead trades. Detroit could be able to take advantage of Chiarelli’s poor deal-making and package a player such as Petr Mrazek, who Edmonton reportedly has interest in, for Nugent-Hopkins. Obviously, more pieces will need to be added to the package, but this can be the genesis of a deal.

Not every move of a rebuild needs to involve getting rid of big contracts. Sometimes its okay to bring in an expensive long-term contract if the player could be a member of the team’s core for the foreseeable future. That is the case with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, making attempting a deal a smart move for the Red Wings.

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