New Jersey Devils: Based On Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Deal, Free Agency Will Likely Be Quiet

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates during warmup against the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates during warmup against the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Edmonton Oilers announced they re-signed former number-one overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to an eight-year deal paying him a little over $5 million per season. It’s honestly a pretty terrible deal for every side. Nugent-Hopkins is making less than his value right now, but he opted to make the deal last for a long time. Eight years is a crazy contract for a player like Nugent Hopkins who is already 28 years old. He will be 37 by the time the contract ends.

That’s the issue with free agency. Every deal ends up looking bad by the end of it. Hockey is a physical sport, and it just isn’t likely a player will be able to keep up their star performance for more than a few years.

Don’t get this wrong, there is a time and a place for free agency, but on the fringes is where things usually go wrong. This is why most teams try to get their free agents signed before they hit the market. That’s where prices go nuts.

There are some free agents the New Jersey Devils would likely love to have on the team. Alexander Ovechkin is a legend who could bring in a crowd as he attempts to take over Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Dougie Hamilton would be the top-pair defenseman the team has been trying to get since Paul Martin left for Pittsburgh. Tuukka Rask would forever end the goalie issues that have plagued this team since Martin Brodeur decided he looked better in blue. Taylor Hall. Zach Hyman brings the versatility to play on every single line. Boy, would we love to get Blake Coleman back in the lineup.

And it’s not like the Devils don’t have money to spend. In fact, they have the most money to spend. The Detroit Red Wings are the only team with technically more cap space, but they only have nine contracts on the books next season. The Devils have 17. Their $34 million is basically here to spend almost entirely on free agents. Then, there’s the salary the Devils are losing in the expansion draft to add to their salary cap space.

However, it’s just not the right place or the right time to make a move like that. The Nugent-Hopkins deal proves what is going to happen in free agency. Since teams aren’t going to be giving out cash, players will prioritize term. The Devils don’t need to get stuck in six or seven-year deals. If anything, they should go for values. They overspent a little on the Brian Boyle deal, but it was only for two years. This is where the Devils should live when it comes to free agency.