Negotiations between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Edmonton Oilers were “mangled” and now up in the air, says NHL insider

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This in from Elliotte Friedman, one of the most credible and reliable sources of NHL news, his take on Calgary Sportsnet 960 radio that negotiations between the Edmonton Oilers and 10-year veteran Ryan Nugent-Hopkins haven’t gone well.

“I got to tell you, that one has been tough,” Friedman said of the negotiation. “They were really close before the season started and it fell apart at the last second. I don’t know what is going to happen there. Whatever was on the table then I’m not convinced is on the table now. We’re going to have to see. That’s a negotiation that went sideways. They tried again a couple of times. I really don’t know how to handicap that one. I really don’t.

“Something happened here. I believe it was always the plan that Nugent-Hopkins was going to stay and they wanted to keep him. I think anyone who is familiar with this situation will tell you they thought it was going to happen and it got mangled. And now I don’t know. To me, I don’t think it’s the worst thing if someone walks, as long as you do something good with the cap room.”

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The NHL salary cap may not go up for five years, Friedman said, an opinion that is pretty widely shared. “At the end of the day they were trying to compete at some level this year. I do think they see value inside Nugent-Hopkins inside the organization. I do think they were trying to sign him. But if walks, I think just saying, ‘We’ll take the $6 million in cap room and do something with it,’ I don’t think that’s the end of the world. Now you’ve got to do something with it.”

This is not a terrible strategy to use a player for a season, then let him walk and use the money elsewhere, Friedman said.

Friedman also said it’s possible Oilers would buy out goalie Mikko Koskinen, who has one year left on a deal that pays him $4.5 million. “I got to think it’s Koskinen, it’s possible he’s the guy, and maybe Neal but the problem with Neal is he’s on your cap for four years. I’m not as convinced about one. I think it’s more likely to be Koskinen.”

On defence, Darnell Nurse will sign a big deal in a year, if not sooner, Evan Bouchard will play and Adam Larsson will be re-signed. “I heard Larsson’s number is right around where it is now.”

Edmonton’s goal is to find out which of its young players can play, Friedman said, naming Bouchard and Ryan McLeod.

“Generally what I think they’re going to do is they’re going to try to turn it more over to their young players and find out who they can. count on long-term. To me that is probably the right thing to do.”

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