This draft season has waited a long time for a leader to emerge. That moment is here. Finally. The "future" plays down the QE2.
Joe Sakic graded out very well in his draft season. Central Scouting’s report (above) on him indicated a quality talent with room to grow. How much room does Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have to grow? How much "Sakic" is there? Does RNH have enough to pass Adam Larsson? RNH is carrying the mail now, I mean he’s balls out ripping it. He has scored 15 points in his last 6 games. ISS has him number one (their new list is here) and it looks like they’re not the only ones.
The scouting reports are glowing, including this one from Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch:
- RNH is an explosive skater who has multiple gears and can attack defenses with his pure speed, or dangle with his excellent lateral mobility and superb, dare I say elite puckhandling skills. He’s a sniper who can put the puck anywhere he wants and with the shots finding the back of the net at absolutely the right time, his stock will only go up. On the down side is his very average size and rail-thin frame, but like most youngsters, he’ll make some progress as he continues an elite athlete training regimen to help get him where he needs to go in his physical development.
Kyle Woodlief of Redline Report was very impressed with the young talent after the Top Prospects Game:
Was the best player on the ice for either team. Made a superb, short-ice backhand saucer pass to set up Bärtschi for 2nd goal. Threw several big hits and generally stuck his nose into traffic all night despite stick-thin build. Stepped in to protect Bärtschi against the much bigger Siemens when the latter was looking to intimidate and spoiling for a fight. A puck hound who was absolutely relentless in pursuit. Constantly dangerous every shift. Physical and fearless. Nimble on his skates. Very smart with great vision and soft hands. Moved the puck quickly and cut into open ice. Battled for possession of space and the puck. Showed a deceptive change of speed that baffled defenders all night.
One of the main concerns in regard to Nugent-Hopkins is his offensive performance at even strength. Although his PP ability will be welcomed when he makes the NHL grade, quality outscorers show themselves to be effective EV offensive forces in junior. Let’s compare Taylor Hall’s numbers a year ago (in the OHL) and Sam Gagner’s during his draft year (also OHL) to RNH this season:
- Hall at EVs: 57gp, 22-33-55
- Hall PK: 57gp, 4-1-5
- Hall PP: 57gp, 14-32-46
Hall posted 51.9% of his overall offense at even-strength, 43.3% on the PP.
- Gagner at EVs: 53gp, 14-33-47
- Gagner PK: 53gp, 1-0-1
- Gagner PP: 53gp, 20-50-70
Gagner posted 39.8% of his overall offense at even-strength. 59.3% on the PP.
- RNH at EVs:67gp, 17-27-44
- RNH PK: 67gp, 0-0-0
- RNH PP: 67gp, 11-47-58
RNH posted 43.1% of his overall offense at even-strength, 56.9% on the PP.
It looks like Nugent-Hopkins is a solid match for Gagner, and that jives with the scouting report. It also makes sense based on the fact that Hall is a superior prospect (I don’t know anyone who would argue otherwise) and that this season’s draft quality overall lacks a top end talent like Hall. Dean Millard at Coming Down the Pipe had an interesting item on RNH yesterday. It is here and Millard says:
- 2 NHL GM’s, who have a very good chance of ending up in the NHL draft lottery have said they would take the Red Deer Rebel first overall. This I have from a very good and credible scouting source.
I’m still in the Couturier court and firmly believe the Oilers choice is Adam Larsson at this time. However, I also remember Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor saying he started last draft year as a Hall fan, became a Seguin fan and ended the year in the Hall camp. MBS can change his mind, and it looks like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is doing everything he can to force his way to the top of the Oilers list.