TOP 100 OILERS: RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS (39)

Robin Brownlee
December 14 2016 07:00AM

RNH Stock

It’s easy enough to spark debate and disagreement when putting together a list of the Top 100 Edmonton Oilers like this one. It gets even trickier when it comes to trying to slot in a work-in-progress like Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins, a player who is still active and who we don’t yet have a complete picture of.

To this point, Nugent-Hopkins is the second active Oiler I’ve ranked. Justin Schultz was the first. I put Schultz in at No. 94, mistakenly it turns out, thinking at the time of writing that he might figure things out. He didn’t. Schultz wouldn’t get a sniff on this list if I was starting it today. Now, Nugent-Hopkins, who is still only 23 and has the opportunity to play himself well up or well down this list from where I have him now.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Center -- shoots L

Born April 12th, 1993 -- Burnaby, BC 

Height 6.00 -- Weight 189 [183 cm/86 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 1 #1 overall 2011 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2011-12

18

EDM

62

18

34

52

-2

16

134

13.4

1092

17:36

2012-13

19

EDM

40

4

20

24

3

8

78

5.1

755

18:52

2013-14

20

EDM

80

19

37

56

-12

26

178

10.7

1632

20:24

2014-15

21

EDM

76

24

32

56

-12

25

189

12.7

1569

20:38

2015-16

22

EDM

55

12

22

34

-9

18

108

11.1

1048

19:04

2016-17

23

EDM

25

3

8

11

-3

8

70

4.3

440

17:36

Career



338

80

153

233

-35

101

757

10.6

6535

19:20

NOTABLE

Much has changed since Nugent-Hopkins, drafted first overall, arrived at the start of the 2011-12 season as an 18-year-old, was shoe-horned into top-line minutes between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and produced 52 points in just 62 games, making him a fan favourite for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

It’s turned out that Nugent-Hopkins was just keeping that top centre seat warm until the arrival of Connor McDavid, who isn’t just a clearly better player than RNH, but is maybe the best player in the game. No shame in that. Since that first season, though, Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t been able to replicate the .84 PPG he had as a rookie. Through 26 games this season, he was at .46 PPG on the year and had slipped to .69 PPG for his career. His shooting percentage has plummeted.

Now, depending on whether Leon Draisaitl lines up at centre or on the wing, RNH is either second or third on coach Todd McLellan’s depth chart down the middle. So, where does Nugent-Hopkins fit now? What will be his role moving forward? Is he morphing into the proverbial two-way guy? Is he now a 200-foot player (I dislike that term)? Can he be effective in that role with a career face-off percentage that’s well south of break-even?

THE STORY

I think Nugent-Hopkins, even in a diminished role and minutes over the last three seasons at five-on-five and on the power play, is a player who’ll get the Oilers 50-60 points a season. That’s pretty good if you don’t fixate on the $6 million a year he’s making, as we tend to do. He’s certainly got better players and a deeper team around him than somebody like Sam Gagner did.

The way I see it as I write this is Nugent-Hopkins is a player in transition. Where, exactly, he fits on this edition of the team (and on this list) has yet to be determined with any certainty. RNH is smart and skilled and my sense is he might thrive in a secondary role. We can throw out the numbers some were projecting after his rookie season, but doesn’t mean he isn’t an effective player.

Is Nugent-Hopkins ever going to become the type of high-octane player many thought he might be when he recorded a hat-trick against the Vancouver Canucks in just his third NHL game back on Oct. 15, 2011? Probably not. What he can be, and what he is now despite a particularly rough stretch in confidence (and shooting percentage), is a very good complementary offensive player.  

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

PREVIOUSLY:

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Leaking5w-30
December 14 2016, 07:14AM
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Is this the first, first overall pick on the list?

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#2 Randaman
December 14 2016, 08:11AM
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Not lately, whether fans want to admit it or not, there it is

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#3 Wintoon
December 14 2016, 08:17AM
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RNH is a player with a wide array of skills and I am a fan of his. What concerns me is that he seems to lack the aggressive drive that you see in top echelon offensive players. Time and again he seems to turn away or hesitate when presented with a potential opportunity. Players like Crosby, Datsyuk, Perry, Benn Seguin, Hall etc. go for it.

What I don't know is whether this is his natural reaction or one that has been coached into him. Does he react this way because he has been told he has to be defensively responsible at all costs?

Until he changes his approach and develops a stronger, more accurate shot he will not reach the point levels everyone expects of him. This may impact his longevity as an Edmonton Oiler.

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#4 Ready to Win
December 14 2016, 08:19AM
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Leaking5w-30 wrote:

Is this the first, first overall pick on the list?

Yes, unless you consider Yakupov not making the top 100 as coming first.

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#5 Makaveli
December 14 2016, 08:22AM
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Ready to Win wrote:

Yes, unless you consider Yakupov not making the top 100 as coming first.

Yakupov should be on a different list... The list of first overall / first round busts.

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#6 camdog
December 14 2016, 08:58AM
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Eventually the Oilers will figure out that RnH is better suited on the wing like Cogliano and Gagner before him.

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#7 The Dave
December 14 2016, 09:07AM
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Wintoon wrote:

RNH is a player with a wide array of skills and I am a fan of his. What concerns me is that he seems to lack the aggressive drive that you see in top echelon offensive players. Time and again he seems to turn away or hesitate when presented with a potential opportunity. Players like Crosby, Datsyuk, Perry, Benn Seguin, Hall etc. go for it.

What I don't know is whether this is his natural reaction or one that has been coached into him. Does he react this way because he has been told he has to be defensively responsible at all costs?

Until he changes his approach and develops a stronger, more accurate shot he will not reach the point levels everyone expects of him. This may impact his longevity as an Edmonton Oiler.

I think some of his rookie talent has been coached out of him. If you watch footage of him in his rookie season he had a bit of a nose for dirty goals, and he'd dart around a lot more aggressively. He had to be the defensive conscience of the team though... there was a season where the centers on the team were him, Gagner, and Lander. There was no fourth. Lander couldn't play top line opposition, and Gagner couldn't defend, so it was up to him.

Thus the team took an opportunistic center with a knack for darting in, grabbing pucks, and attacking, and they transformed him into what we have today. A reliable player who can play 25 minutes, if need be, optimized for low event hockey at evens and longing for a sniper to pass the puck to on the powerplay.

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#9 IRONman
December 14 2016, 09:38AM
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Nuge is helluva good guy.

If you go to the games you will see him back check like no other.

He is true blue.

56 pt guy is with 6 million to me.

3 centres is a sweet deal. Injuries wrecked our D this year

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#10 Explicit
December 14 2016, 09:58AM
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Can't believe you're at 39 already Brownlee. It'll be interesting to see who you have ahead of Nuge

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#11 @Hallsy4
December 14 2016, 10:00AM
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Don't mind the Nuge. I don't think he's a lifetime Oiler though. My guess is Ebs is traded this offseason and Nuge the next... but wouldn't be suprised if this is Nugey Boys last year in the Copper and Blue. Make the most of it brother.

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#12 @Hallsy4
December 14 2016, 10:13AM
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On second thought I'd trade both Nuge and Ebs this summer. The old core doesn't/isn't working... Nuge shouldn't be that hard to replace, I'd rather have Eric Staal who it seems like no one wanted not so long ago, as he is much better suited to the role that Nuge is playing. Hopefully Chia remakes this team once again in the summer, and Kruger leads the new look team next season.

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#13 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
December 14 2016, 10:34AM
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The Dave wrote:

I think some of his rookie talent has been coached out of him. If you watch footage of him in his rookie season he had a bit of a nose for dirty goals, and he'd dart around a lot more aggressively. He had to be the defensive conscience of the team though... there was a season where the centers on the team were him, Gagner, and Lander. There was no fourth. Lander couldn't play top line opposition, and Gagner couldn't defend, so it was up to him.

Thus the team took an opportunistic center with a knack for darting in, grabbing pucks, and attacking, and they transformed him into what we have today. A reliable player who can play 25 minutes, if need be, optimized for low event hockey at evens and longing for a sniper to pass the puck to on the powerplay.

Interesting observations, my first thought as I read the post is that he is gun shy, Hockey first needs to be fun. Not sure this team has had a lot of fun.

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#14 Seanaconda
December 14 2016, 10:54AM
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Ready to Win wrote:

Yes, unless you consider Yakupov not making the top 100 as coming first.

Have we never traded for a former first overall that could of been before Hopkins? He's the first oilers first overall on the list for sure tho

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#15 FISTO Siltanen
December 14 2016, 10:56AM
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@Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

Maybe not over the last few years but this year, a few tough games aside, has been fun. That can't be an excuse this year.

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#16 Slats 101
December 14 2016, 11:12AM
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I think it's way to early to place Nuge on this list, the last few years Nuge has not been an offensive contributor and he's vastly overrated as a defensive contributor. Nuge is not much of factor in most games.

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#17 Randaman
December 14 2016, 11:37AM
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camdog wrote:

Eventually the Oilers will figure out that RnH is better suited on the wing like Cogliano and Gagner before him.

He'll be gone by then. I am very confident that after the expansion draft, both him and Eberle will be gone.

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#18 mithaman
December 14 2016, 11:43AM
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camdog wrote:

Eventually the Oilers will figure out that RnH is better suited on the wing like Cogliano and Gagner before him.

You would think so, but Nuge isn't strong enough to win battles along the boards. He'd get muscled out of plays. He's also a poor shooter, very slow release. Pay attention to how many of his shots make it to the net. Very few. He gives the defender that split second to block it with their stick.

Fans don't like to talk about it, but Nuge has been a major disappointment when compared to his fellow #1 overalls. He's the biggest bust since Yakupov. Very little trade value, often injured, can't win faceoffs. Expect 40 points from him per year moving forward.

I miss Hall

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#19 OldOilerFan
December 14 2016, 12:17PM
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I don't care what anyone says, I still like the Nuge and hope he sticks around. I won't get into his contract, same as I won't with Eberle. Blame the GM who threw out that figure, not the player.

That said, It's the arrival of Draisaitl and McDavid that have altered his role on the team, and the linemates he has. I think the skill is still there. I still value his 200ft game even if his point production has tailed off. I think he just needs consistent linemates for a bit and he'll come around. I'm not a fan of Mclelland's constant blender out.

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#20 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
December 14 2016, 12:29PM
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FISTO Siltanen wrote:

Maybe not over the last few years but this year, a few tough games aside, has been fun. That can't be an excuse this year.

agreed but it could easily take the year to get those negative thoughts out of those well ingrained heads. I believe it indeed will happen as everything is changing from Before Connor to a world that rotates around the After Connor came here. Playoffs would really help that and speed up the process. Winning a round would do it for sure IMO. (I would not call it an excuse but more a reason for patience as B.C. is nothing like A.C came here.)

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#21 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
December 14 2016, 12:31PM
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OldOilerFan wrote:

I don't care what anyone says, I still like the Nuge and hope he sticks around. I won't get into his contract, same as I won't with Eberle. Blame the GM who threw out that figure, not the player.

That said, It's the arrival of Draisaitl and McDavid that have altered his role on the team, and the linemates he has. I think the skill is still there. I still value his 200ft game even if his point production has tailed off. I think he just needs consistent linemates for a bit and he'll come around. I'm not a fan of Mclelland's constant blender out.

In some ways the "blender" can really hurt the team in the short term but we all know that sometimes things are just not clicking and putting two guys together whom have been there before because of the blender has a greater chance of working that if you do not run the blender.

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#22 Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89
December 14 2016, 02:02PM
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I miss hall also

RNH for larrson would have been a really good trade Very equal

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#23 The Dave
December 14 2016, 06:40PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Twenty-five minutes?

Not every night, but yeah it happened. In 2014-2015 the poor guy *averaged* 20:42, and he hit 25 more than once (I'm not sure if it happened in a non-OT game though).

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#24 Boom or Bust
December 14 2016, 07:13PM
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NUUUUUUUUGGGGGEEEE

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#25 SSB1963
December 15 2016, 12:07PM
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Seanaconda wrote:

Have we never traded for a former first overall that could of been before Hopkins? He's the first oilers first overall on the list for sure tho

We traded for Joe Murphy way back in the day after Detroit gave up on him.

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