The Nuge is back in town.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drove into Edmonton on Sunday, poised for training camp to open on Jan. 3. He’d been in Vancouver staying sharp.
“It’s been pretty good for me,” he said Monday. “I’ve basically been doing a normal off-season program in the gym and on the ice.”
Nugent-Hopkins is ready to start his tenth season as an Oiler. His contract expires in the summer. In October, general manager Ken Holland said he’d had talks with Nugent-Hopkins’ agent about an extension.
“The marketplace is changed so much, that basically our conversations have ended. I would hope that at some point in time here, once we get up and running, we can pick up and find a solution,” Holland said.
“My hope is to find a solution to keep Nuge in an Oiler uniform. The deal has to work for Ryan, and the deal’s got to work for the Oilers.”
“There has been a bit of talk in the past. Obviously, (it’s) a weird, different time to be talking contract,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “I’m just focused on getting the season started.
“I’m going to put it on the back burner and just really focus on getting the season going.”
When the season does start on Jan. 13, the Oilers will be without defenceman Oscar Klefbom. On Monday, Holland confirmed Klefbom will miss the entire season with a shoulder problem.
“I’ve been talking to Oscar quite a bit about it. It’s been an ongoing thing,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It’s something that he has to take care of himself.
“We’re going to miss him as a solid defenceman, but more than anything, I just feel bad for him.”
On the Oilers’ top-ranked power play, Klefbom will be replaced by Tyson Barrie, who was signed as a free agent in October. Barrie had 39 points in 70 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and thrice has had over 50 points in a season.
“(He’s a) very, very skilled player,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He knows when to jump up in the rush. I think that’s going to be fun playing with him.
“Sometimes he can be like a fourth forward beating other guys up the ice.”
The NHL schedule hasn’t been revealed yet, but we do know all the Canadian teams will play against each other in the North Division.
“I think it’s going to be pretty fun. We’re going to get to know these teams pretty well by the end of the season. There are going to be intense games,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “There are going to be some new rivalries come up for sure.
“You have to set the tone early with your energy level.”
Watch below: Some recent video about the Edmonton Oilers.
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