The First Overall Pick: Avoid Nugent-Hopkins

Jonathan Willis
February 05 2011 09:39PM

 

 

As it stands today, at least four players have a legitimate shot at going first overall: defenceman Adam Larsson of the Swedish Elite League, and forwards Sean Couturier, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog.

After looking through the numbers, I’m convinced that Nugent-Hopkins would be the wrong selection.

Over in Lowetide’s gameday thread, commenter PunjabiOil made mention of an interesting point with regard to Nugent-Hopkins: 

[Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] concerns me. 47 of his 69 points (someone on HF did a breakdown) have come on the powerplay. [Sean Couturier] appears to be a vastly superior prospect, IMO.

Naturally, that caught my attention. From what I’ve seen, junior players that put up a massive percentage of their points on the power play tend not to carry that production with them into the NHL. Generally, young forwards simply don’t get the same amount of minutes on the power play in the big leagues that they get in junior, and thus it’s essential that they also have production at even-strength.

In light of that, I decided to break down the offensive production of the three forwards in major junior by game state. This required going through the game sheets on the OHL, WHL and QMJHL websites, so it’s possible I made an error adding somewhere – the QMJHL website in particular is not especially user-friendly – but these numbers should be either bang on or very close to it.

Power-Play Scoring

Player Goals Assists Points
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 8 39 47
Sean Couturier 6 20 26
Gabriel Landeskog 7 4 11

Even-Strength/Shorthanded Scoring

Player Goals Assists Points
Sean Couturier 19 29 48
Gabriel Landeskog 18 17 35
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11 21 32

*Note: Couturier’s numbers include six points while short-handed: two goals and four assists. He’s the only one of these three players to be adding offence while short-handed.

The dichotomy between Nugent-Hopkins’ results in these two tables is incredible. On the one hand, he contributes more offence on the power-play than Couturier and Landeskog combined. Clearly, the diminutive forward is an ace with the man advantage.

However, at even-strength Nugent-Hopkins is actually the least effective of the three players, particularly when we take into account games played: Couturier’s played 44, Landeskog 33 and Nugent-Hopkins 52. In other words, while both of the other forwards are slightly above the point-per-game mark in even-strength offence, Nugent-Hopkins is well below it.

I’m actually surprised at how well Gabriel Landeskog holds up by this measure – he’s pretty much on par with Sean Couturier’s even-strength results, and although he doesn’t compare on the power play that might indicate he’s a better scorer than his reputation would suggest.

This is hardly a comprehensive evaluation of the three players, but based on the results I have no hesitation in saying that I’d rank Nugent-Hopkins well back of both Couturier and Landeskog.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#51 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
February 06 2011, 04:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
andrewmk20 wrote:

I wouldn't look at the league he plays in as much as the player himself. Sidney Crosby and Hemsky were both from the Q. And according to a lot of scouting reports the Q is contributing a lot more ranked prospects in the draft than in previous years.

Also looking at the even strength/PK scoring numbers if you say the league is weaker than he is at the very least on par with Landeskog.

Fair enough but just look at the elite players in the league....not too much comin out of the Q. Right now im in the pandeskog camp but havent seen the prospects play enough to judge. I really like the perception of lands as it sits now. Also as wanye had stated...ELPH (ebs, lands/lars, Pjarv, Hall). No possible argument can be made for Couturier or RNH with that logic!! LoL

Avatar
#52 me78
February 06 2011, 05:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sorry, I've got to disagree with all the RNH haters out there. I've seen this kid play 5+ games (as both a 16yo and 17yo) and I'll take what I've seen with my own eyes over some guy pouring over a stats sheet. Its not always about the stats, there are certain intangibles that come into play when selecting future talent, no? Granted, my viewing sample of Landeskog, Larsson, and Couturier is limited, but I have no hesitation in supporting the Oilers drafting RNH. Is he a guy that has the skill to play next year? Absolutely. Does he have the size necessary to play next year? No. That's the only thing holding him back IMHO. And to make the suggestion that because he produces on the powerplay he shouldn't be picked. How much time does Taylor Hall get on the PP? How many of his JR points came via the PP? Yes, I'm biased, but only because of the sample size of games I've seen RNH play in.

Avatar
#53 me78
February 06 2011, 05:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sorry, that should read 55+ games! Not that a viewing sample of 5 games isn't a lot ;)

Avatar
#54 offthebandwagon
February 06 2011, 07:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

JW: how do the nhl equivelencies compare between the three

Avatar
#55 Jamie
February 06 2011, 09:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

JW, have you crunched the numbers for past years to see if NHL production actually holds up to this hypothesis? I seem to remember this exact same argument being used to suggest that Seguin should be selected over Hall.

I think that it makes sense that even strength production should be more important, but given the differences in team mates and systems, the relatively small numbers could be skewed. Certainly relying on one stat alone to make a decision between prospects seems hasty.

Avatar
#56 SierraRacs
February 07 2011, 08:29AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I have two words for powerplay specialists in juniors and their transition to the majors... Robert Schremp (but that is an entirely different can of worms).

Avatar
#57 me78
February 07 2011, 08:58AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@aitch

Nope, not a season ticket holder. I'm a broadcaster, so I do have the ability to watch RNH play without "starry eyes" clouding my view. When I first arrived in RD, I wasn't sure what all the hype was about. After watching him play just 2 games, I discovered why. The hockey intelligence is just something that you can't teach and RNH has it.

I agree maybe Willis couldve phrased it differently, but again, you can't judge prospects solely on numbers and stats. RNH goes up against the oppositions best players night in and night out and excells. Powerplay, even strength, whatever. In fact, RNH could play on Edmontons PP right now and succeed!

And I've met both his parents. His pops is a big guy. RNH will fill out

Avatar
#58 me78
February 07 2011, 09:03AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@sierraracs (and all the rest talking about PP production in Junior and the Bigs)

I vehemently disagree with the "putting points up on the PP in junior does not make you a sure fire. NHLer" logic

Yes, it does guarantee NHL success. But that rationale is only applicable to late first round- early 2nd round picks. Someone mentioned Robbie Schremp. Did he go first overall? A first overall pick will get PP time, so that argument doesn't hold any water

Avatar
#59 me78
February 07 2011, 09:25AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sorry again. That should read DOES NOT guarantee success at the NHL level. I need to stop commenting with my Blackberry!

Avatar
#60 VMR
February 07 2011, 10:01AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Thanks for bringing that forward, I didnt realize so many of his points were coming on the pp. I think he drops a few spots in my estimation then certainly. I'm still unsure of Couturier and would lean towards Larsson or possibly Landeskog with the comparisons to Mike Richards (who wouldnt kill for a guy like that on their team).

Avatar
#61 Clyde Frog
February 07 2011, 11:01AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Couturier or RNH one of those two are the only thing that will make me happy this draft...

Drafting Larsson is way too much of crapshoot, too many top 5 Dmen turn into "decent" players... Not what you want out of a top 5 pick at all. Would you take Victor Headman over Duchene or Tavares? How about any of the big Dmen last year over Hall...? Didn't think so, yet you can look through the archives for the same tired reasoning from people wanting us to take gubranson and fowler...

Landeskog while a excellent player is a winger, who would you like to see on the third & fourth line? Hemsky, Eberly, Omark or Landeskog?

Taking a player that has had success at the centre position throughout his career would fill an actual hole on this team as apposed to just upgrading a position, its not like Couturier or RNH aren't having incredible success either...

Avatar
#62 Hoovisonfire
February 07 2011, 11:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

For the Oil to draft RNH, he had better be miles ahead of the other three mentioned. Edmonton simply cannot afford any more undersized players. If Edm ends up picking 4th, I still don't want him.

Avatar
#63 Clyde Frog
February 07 2011, 12:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hoovisonfire, the kid is over 6 feet tall he is just lean at 170 pounds right now. No danger of being a sub 6 foot tall smurf, just need to wait for his frame to fill out with a proper workout schedule.

The plus here is he is competing well with a weight disadvantage. If he fills out well, he will be well set to compete with men seeing as he is used to not being the strongest kid on the ice.

While players who are much bigger(at this stage) may develop bad habits when they are used to being 20 pounds heavier than the kids they are playing against.

Avatar
#64 Ryan14
February 07 2011, 12:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

me78: How many games have you watched Landeskog or Couturier in person?

Comments are closed for this article.