May 21 2011 07:10AM
It's been a long time since a WHL kid topped the draft rankings across the board. With the release of Redline Report's latest top 10, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins joins some select company.
The last time a WHL player went #1 overall, Chris Phillips was heading to Ottawa (1996). The last time a forward from the dub--an offensive dynamo--went at the top of the draft Mike Modano (1988) was moving from the PA Raiders to the North Stars of Minnesota. The last time a Canadian born kid playing in the WHL was selected number one overall and had a career as a forward, Wendel Clark was plucked by the Maple Leafs (1985). Even that has an asterisk, Clark played defense with the Saskatoon Blades in junior. The last time a bona fide WHL trained Canadian forward was taken #1 overall, Doug Wickenheiser (1980) was being announced as the top pick (to an angry group of fans) for the Montreal Canadiens.
The kid is chasing history
TOP OF THE CHARTS
As of the Redline release of their new top 10 (courtesy USA Today) Nugent-Hopkins is now number one on Bob McKenzie's list (tsn), Redline's list and the ISS list. Robin Brownlee's recent articles that featured Stu MacGregor suggest the Oilers organization is also leaning this way.
WHAT MAKES HIM SO GOOD?
“(Nugent-Hopkins) has very good puck-handling capabilities. His on-ice awareness is very good. He's one of those guys that knows where everyone is and where they should be and where the puck should go . . . He can dish both right or left, either on his backhand or forehand with that kind of vision. But not just the vision, but the fact he can lay that puck between the skate boot and the skate blade -- that's hard to find.”
NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan
“A couple of people high up -- and not naming names -- said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99 (Wayne Gretzky). That's the highest compliment you can get. But the other thing is the way he competes. He never takes a night off and he works as hard in his own end as he does in the offensive zone and that takes a special player with a special set of skills to do that.”
Draft him, send him back to junior where he can help the Rebels try to win the WHL championship and maybe the Memorial Cup. Add in a WJ appearance and a season devoted to adding strength. That's the ticket and as of today it's unanimous.
- Dustin Nielson from Team 1260's morning show. He's a draft nerd! We'll ask him about which sources he values most and get his take on the top of the draft.
- Matt Bugg from dobber hockey. Another draft service that is getting ready for their final list and we'll talk to Matt about some of those hidden gems.
- Kirk Luedeke from Bruins Draft Watch. Kirk has been hitting it out of the park recently, we'll discuss a few items including goalies and the top 8 picks in this year's group.
- Matt Fenwick, an entertaining fellow and a legend for his work at Battle of Alberta.
We may also have a few surprises in store, hope you send your thoughts along and tune in at noon. Have a great long weekend!