The Nuge

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.

  • Avsfan192

    @PDBF

    “Rarely will a six foot tall, fit, 17 year old kid be over 180”

    Lots are. I was over 180, a lot of my friends were. Some weren’t, and they weren’t elite athletes either. The issue is RNH is way under 180. The whole concern about him is not his ability at the junior level but the fact he is unusully skinny for this game.

    Even if he gains 30 lbs in the next few years and plays at 195 (I wish we could bet on that) we’ll still likely have the smallest top line in the league, which is ok because it’s working so far. They’ll just need a few years to develop, right?

    One thing to think about is getting the best player for Hall and Ebs. Hall is the cream, and his strength is attacking at speed. Having a bigger centre (because Hall isn’t huge and Ebs small) who can play both ways and dominate at evens (to allow the others to focus on offense) and win face offs would be ideal. A better version of Horcoff. Someone has to mind the store so the line can outscore other good lines.

    @TUG

    It’s not nice to insinuate that people are stupid, you might hurt my feelings. Especially when all you are doing is restating what I’ve said and generalizing.

    The Red Wings were 10lbs heavier than the Oilers BEFORE we traded Penner – I calculated it.

    If they are a small team what does that make us? Why are we the worst team in the league? Why do so many hockey people (including the current GM) think being too small is a problem for the team? By definition that means big players are USUALLY more effective NHL players.

    Renney didn’t trade trade Penner, Tambelowe did.

    If you don’t have any idea who the best prosect is, why are you debating with me about it on a blog about the topic?

    I agree RNH is worthy of discussion, that’s why I’m discussing him. Originally I said I would only draft him if he was really elite (like Crosby) because of his size – we are already the smallest team, and off you went.

    RNH’s numbers aren’t even the best for a centre in this draft, so I think that it’s fair to say he isn’t a really elite player. I do think he’ll be good, just not great at the NHL level, which is what we need, isn’t it?

    As for your suggestion I can’t say that he won’t be great because our other small guys aren’t, I can’t agree. Why wouldn’t I use the current players (and their weaknesses which even management says are largely size related) as a guide to what we need to do differently? We are in last place after all.

    How else do you find a solution for the current problems? Even the Oilers are saying they drafted too many small players and have changed that lately in the first round (excepting Eberle, who had a lot more on his resume in his draft year at the highest level of play than RNH does).

    The reason the other teams have better players is they draft better players. The Oilers bet the farm that the “new NHL” would be all about skill, that size didn’t matter, and they were wrong. They have changed that strategy now as a result, at least at the draft.

    Ability being equal (we don’t have any superstars – Hall may be but not yet), the larger player wins in the end in contact sport (why MMA has weight classes), and the other teams have the larger players – seems pretty straight forward to me.

    You do take the best player, but RNH doesn’t even have the best numbers in this draft, so I think taking a gamble on some unseen as of yet potential is too risky. It didn’t pan out with Gagner, and now we are still looking for the #1 C he was drafted to be. Even his own team thinks this. Do you want to repeat the same mistake exactly? I don’t.

    • The Red Wings were 10lbs heavier than the Oilers BEFORE we traded Penner – I calculated it.

      Did you also calculate the age difference or do you not believe that might have something to do with that?

      If you don’t have any idea who the best prosect is, why are you debating with me about it on a blog about the topic?

      I’m not. I disagree with your belief that size is everything. You’re not alone though. Central scouting had Turris ahead of Kane for the same reasons.