The losses continue to pile up for the Oilers, now mired in a six-game winless skid.
Darren Dreger had a Wednesday afternoon radio hit on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290.
Toward the end of the segment, the Insider was asked if he thought Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might be able to be pried out of Edmonton for the right price.
“Can’t imagine. I can’t imagine, unless it’s just a jaw-dropping offer,” replied Dreger immediately. “Because when I look at the Edmonton Oilers, you can count on probably six - maybe seven - fingers how many players are players of substance - with all due respect to those who are earning a living as NHL players. And I’m not trying to be disrespectful.
“What I’m talking about is what separates a very average team to slightly below average team to a team in the West that is trying desperately to compete with the big clubs. And Edmonton just cannot do that.
“Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is one of those pieces. He’s one of their top three players, along with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, and when Oscar Klefbom is healthy you can throw him into that mix as well.
“I can’t imagine. Now, I do think that whether it’s Keith Gretzky or a management team or the new GM when he’s hired, he’s going to have to be very, very creative. I don’t think that it’s out of the realm of possibility that Edmonton could be a big player in free agency, but to do it - man, they’re going to have to move out so many contracts. Look at anyone who’s earning around $2 million or 2.5 that’s employed by the Edmonton Oilers - that player is probably going to have to go for next-to-nothing coming back. And that’s difficult to sell. You’d have to be very, very creative.
“But yeah, it’s just a pool of negativity in Edmonton. Man, it just cannot get better. They cannot shake it. And it was interesting for me today to see Ken Hitchcock up in the stands while Glen Gulutzan took over practice for the Edmonton Oilers from a coaching perspective.
“So who knows what’s happening next there.”
Nugent-Hopkins, who will not be going anywhere via trade, has two seasons beyond 2018-19 remaining on his seven-year, $42 million contract, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly