Allan Mitchell of The Athletic (subscription required) points out that it might be in the best interest of the Edmonton Oilers to sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as soon as possible versus waiting another year to get his contract done.

While there will certainly be questions about available funds this offseason and the Oilers will be one of many teams that need to be cautious with where that money goes, the risks that comes with a strong season for Nugent-Hopkins potentially outweigh the risks of overpaying the forward now, notes Mitchell as he examines the forwards upward trend.

Mitchell points out that “Nuge” has picked up his game of late and might have turned a corner in his offensive production. If this season brings 82 points or anything to it for the 28-year-old, the Oilers are going to wish they’d locked him up before he explodes offensively. Mitchell asks, “If Holland can sign Nugent-Hopkins to a six-year, $45 million deal ($7.5 million cap hit) should he do it this offseason?” He makes the argument they should and thinks the fans would be on board.

Then he asks, “What if it takes a seven-year, $56 million dollar deal to keep Nuge away from the Canucks, Rangers or another NHL team?”

The Oilers Have Been Here Before

That’s a harder question to answer. The Oilers were in a similar situation with Leon Draisaitl a few years back. The team signed him to a lengthy extension that most believed, at the time, was a big overpay. After winning the Art Ross Trophy this season and scoring over 100 points in back-to-back campaigns, that deal now looks like a steal.

Could Nugent-Hopkins become a fair contract at $8 million per season? It’s hard to imagine Nuge will ever equal Draisaitl’s production, but who knows? Still young, he’s still got a long time to up his numbers, which haven’t been too shabby.

Mitchell adds:

“A big offensive season in 2020-21 would make the next contract a headache for general manager Ken Holland. The cap hit for a 60-point two-way forward is one thing. But coming off an 80-point season at 28?”

Related: Why the Edmonton Oilers Will Be a Force if this Post-Season Happens