If you don’t see this picture in three weeks then I’d be very surprised, and you should be disappointed. I’ve said since March the Oilers should draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and after speaking with many scouts the past month on my show and via text, there is no doubt in my mind he is they guy they should, and will, call on June 24th.

I don’t want to rehash why I think they should use their first pick on a centre over a D-man, but if you want to know read here, meanwhile I want to focus on why they must take Nugent-Hopkins. It is becoming clearer by the day that he is the most talented player in the draft. His ability to see plays that others can’t is what separates him from the rest of this year’s draft class.

If you are worried about his alleged lack of size chew on this for a second. Oil Kings forward Micheal St. Croix finished the WHL season at 175 pounds, on Wednesday he weighed 185 at the combine. Nugent-Hopkins finished his campaign at 168 and earlier this week he was already at 177.

Oilers head amateur scout, Stu MacGregor explained to me why this is not a surprise.

"It is not unusual for the young guys to gain weight quickly after the season, because they take a little rest, get home to mom and eating home cooked meals more regularly. They do really focus on eating better and they start to look at developing physically and getting into their fitness programs."

How many of you put on some pounds when you went from being single to dating a girl who was a good cook? Of course you probably gorged yourself and didn’t work out feverishly like these draft-eligible kids, so it isn’t hard to see why Nugent-Hopkins will likely end up being a 190 pound NHLer in his second season.


Jonathon Huberdeau had a great playoffs, 16-14-30 in 19 games, including tallying 3-3-6 in four Memorial Cup games while leading his Saint John Sea Dogs to the championship. Some are wondering if his playoffs have put him in the same category as Nugent-Hopkins. It is a good question, but I don’t think he is there yet.

In my conversation with MacGregor I asked him to compare the similarities and differences between the two.

"The similarities are certainly their hockey sense, skills and vision of the ice. The difference is that Ryan has that quickness and slipperiness that defenseman seem to fear. Jonathon is starting to develop that same aspect but he isn’t as smooth at it just yet."

MacGregor didn’t want to tip his hand on who he was leaning towards, but he did say with certainty that he knows who he would take first today and will reiterate that to Steve Tambellini in the coming weeks. He did however give me a slight glimpse as to where they were leaning when I asked him if it was likely that they would use their first two picks on different positional players. 

You might think I was reading between the lines too much on that, but I’d suggest of MacGregor was leaning towards Adam Larsson at that moment he naturally would have mentioned taking a D-man. I wouldn’t expect MacGregor to tell me or any other outlet, on the record at least, who they were taking, because it would take away that incredibly special moment for the player when his name is the first one called on June 24th. I’m very confident; however, it will be Nugent-Hopkins.

One other tidbit, the first team to interview Nugent-Hopkins at the combine this week was the Edmonton Oilers.


Over the past month I’ve had the chance to interview over 15 different independent scouts and NHL scouts, and all but one of them said if they had the first pick they would take Nugent-Hopkins. The one who didn’t chose him opted to not give an answer. Many listed Nugent-Hopkins’ hockey sense and vision on the ice as the main reasons they’d take him first. 

One of the most interesting responses came from Mark Edwards of

"He has the stuff you can’t teach. You can’t teach a player to go down and see the ice like he has 360 eyes in his head. I had to steal that line from Duncan Siemens when I asked him about playing against Nugent-Hopkins. He said, ‘Just when you think you have him, he looks out another eye in his head and sees another play that you couldn’t see, and boom, the pass goes tape-to-tape to another player, and it’s a great play that sets up another chance.’

"I think he is undervalued as a goal scorer. We all know what a great playmaker he is, but his shot is much better than many think. I see that elite player in him. To me he has separated from the pack. Our two through six or seven are a lot tighter, and I probably could sit down and do the rankings everyday and I could be convinced to move a guy up or down one, but for him he has been a constant number one since late December."

In three weeks the Oilers should have the 2nd player in franchise history to wear #93 when Tambellini steps up to the podium and announces, "With the first overall pick in 2011 draft, we are extremely excited to select from the Red Deer Rebels, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins."

Props to D.L. and J.M for some sweet photoshopping early this morning.

  • We should just have a Royal Rumble and take the last man standing as our first overall pick. It would probably be easier and hell of alot more entertaining than watching the combine. The only thing worse than watching this is listening to Bob MacKenzies anylysis of the results. There is only one choice and when Stu hands the card to Gary “the hobbit” Bettamn, the name Ryan Nugent Hopkins will be written all over it. Stu couldn’t care less if RNH does 7 pushups. Or takes a dump twice a day. He only cares that when push comes to shove that RNH will cowboy up and deliver the goods in the NHL for the next 10 years. RNH.June 24,2011.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I think the Oilers take RNH 1st, then trade up for the 3rd or 4th pick; it also would not surprise me to see a deal to Florida for Grudbranson if the panthers can’t get an entry level contract signed I think the Oilers can steal this kid for the right price, which wont be an over payment deal.

  • Jason Gregor

    How many of you put on some pounds when you went from being single to dating a girl who was a good cook?

    I would like to hear Stauffer’s answer to this question.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Jason: we have a great youth core: were we suck is in the veteran base that exists over a 15 year draft cycle. that 26 to 33 group that allows the young guys to flourish.

    Find out what is available! On the veteran side. Trade down if you can stay in top 5 and get good veteran help. but you are at the mercy of the people who pick ahead of you.

    I watch a tonne of video but as martin Mayhew Gm of the detroit lions says highlight of players best are not what you need highlights of the worst tell you more.

    that being said:

    Larson has had the the two best pre draft years average for an offensive Dmen.

    Hubredeau, in alot of the video and the MEM cup, looked erily like Ryan Smyth and then moments of MEH.

    For me the ones i willing to risk #1 on:
    thou trading to 3,4,5,6 would be ok. If you are not going to take those two.

    Ritchie is the prize I want in this draft. but you can not take him in top 15 cause of the half season.

  • @ ~S~K~:

    Red Deer’s relatively conservative even-strength GF/GA numbers are certainly a factor, and definitely worth considering.

    @ Jason Gregor:

    I’m still a little torn, to tell you the truth. I lean towards Larsson – if he does follow Hedman’s path, I’ll be happy – even though I do tend to agree with you that F > D as a rule. I haven’t decided yet between RNH, Larsson, Couturier, Huberdeau, Strome and Landeskog.

    It’s tough this year, and the consensus points pretty strongly to RNH. I think this is tougher than the Seguin/Hall decision.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      I just think of the shear waste of talent Nash is because the blue jackets have not had quality center, as well as Iggy in Calgary. Now there are good centers in this draft however my gut tells me that player is RNH, like Oates to Hull. RNH to Hall.

    • I’m a little leery of taking Larsson for a few reasons: He already has a history of injuries, with his groin and now his shoulder. His point totals declined this year compared to last year (which I’m sure has a bit to do with the injuries). The fact that D take longer to develop, coupled with he is a Dman coming from Europe trying to get accustomed to a different game. Also he didn’t exactly blow away the competition at the combine with his strength (which is supposed to be a big part of his game) kind of makes me question using him with the number 1 pick.

      I believe it should be between RNH and Huberdeau with RNH getting the edge. It sounds like RNH has a more potential to be an elite player than Huberdeau. Also the fact that Huberdeau went from 35 points last year to the 105 he got this year is a dramatic increase and I believe should be cause for concern due to the fact he had a stacked team. He does however earn points for his playoff run and memorial cup mvp. To me its really just a two horse race for the number 1 pick. Couturier is the big center we would love to have, but I don’t think he has the upside as the other two. He just doesn’t seem to be able to elevate his offensive game to seperate him from the pack (WJC & Top prospects game). The Oilers don’t need another solid two way player, they need an offensive dynamo that the other teams have to game plan around. RNH doesn’t seem to be a slouch in his own end either having said that. That’s just my opinion anyways.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      Anaerobic fitness
      3 14.0 ROCCO GRIMALDI USA U-18 (USHL)
      6 13.6 CONNOR MURPHY USA U-18 (USHL)
      10 13.0 TYLER BIGGS USA U-18 (USHL)

      Aerobic fitness VO2 Max
      10 55.8 TYLER BIGGS USA U-18 (USHL)

  • Clyde Frog

    I think RNH pulled away as the #1 pick after his play at the top prospects game. He only got 2 pts (both at even strength), but his line was a threat pretty much every time they were on the ice. That fact that he was playing with some quality linemates in this game goes to show that he can produce at even strength when he plays with players that are on his level of skill. I realize it is only one game, but he was playing against the best that the CHL has to offer and everyone has a lot at stake in this game. I would be really disappointed if the Oilers didn’t call his name as the first pick at this years draft.

    On another subject, everyone keeps talking about trading the 19th pick to move up. Why not keep the 19th pick and package the 31st pick to move up into the top 10? I know it would take a bit more in the package, but it would give us 3 picks in the top 20.

  • Sparky

    @Oilers G

    Sorry man but OB1 contributed something useful to the debate, and all you can do is pick apart his word usage? I find it hard to believe anyone misunderstood his comments due to an improper “they’re, their, there”. If these are the worst type of grammatical faux paus that we have to deal with here at the nation, then we would probably top the charts next to the Harvard linguistics league boards.

    Is it that big of a deal? At L3AsT wE DoNt HaV tO reAd ThIS!

  • Sparky

    I agree Crazy. RNH just seems to have shown a lot more of the elite flair than anyone else in this draft. There are quite a few prospects who will become good NHL players, but I would like to take a chance with RNH. I mean it’s not like it’s that big of a gamble anyways, even if he isn’t the next Datsyuk, we could use the upgrade at center. And one can only imagine if he pans out…

    I am a Rebels season ticket holder, I’ve watched him play many times, and he is the real deal.

  • Clyde Frog

    Oh Rickie, you are quickly becoming Madjamesque with your ridiculous theory.

    Why is it ridiculous? Because you do nothing but cherry pick a sample, then ignore the rest of the population. You say this is cool because your trending… I’m sorry but its a joke, especially when you hone in on the simplest of equations Goals divided by Points and pretend you have discovered the secret equation to life itself.

    Bro, its freaking goals/points… You don’t even set a minimum for scoring standards here, look at any player scoring under 10 points and your theory is DOA.

    Want buy in? Run the numbers for several full drafts and post the Excel Breakdown, set your margins and click the descriptive statistics button. It will do all the work for you and demonstrate in reality how this works

    If the kid is so poor offensively, why was he involved with almost 40% of the total output for the team? Why do scouts like him?

    Questions from just 2007

    Logan Couture doesn’t fit your mold and actually flipped his scoring style in the NHL. Using your vaunted model, why?

    Why isn’t Kyle Turris prolific? He was at 54% with the model.

    Colton Gilles was a respectable 43%, surely he must be over-performing by now?

    When Edmonton jumped up to select Riley Nash it must have been because of his 45% ratio, right? That turned out great…

    The reason scouts are paid bags of money is that players have a lot more to their game. You have to weigh the system they play under, the style of game they have, the areas of the ice they score from, the types of goals they get, the way other teams shut them down and more.

    • Do you uderstand end of an s Curve the the are two ends of the spectrum when it comes to performance.

      Does it surprise you the that players who are at the bad end of the curve when it comes to the key point in winning games do not meet expected point production when it comes to moving to the NHL.

      The guy at the other end of the curve end up being selected in the top of the draft.

      it bothers me that a clearly statistical and excel proficient person like you can not realize i am dealing with end of the curve to identify the best risk and the worst.


      to Paraphrase:

      you are a dumb ass that does not get it. Just like all the other dumbasses who throw out the mid curve players.

      I do not mean dumbass in a vitrol sort of way.
      It is the Red from the 70’s show Dumbass, more a pathetic pitty comment.

      • Clyde Frog

        Oh Rickie, this is why we call you a cherry picker and people chuckle when they see your posts much like they do for Madjam’s.

        A statistical theory doesn’t work if you say, well this person wasn’t expected to score goals, therefor his results don’t count. Why? Because the requirement of that statement for ANY theory is a joke. I have a car, using my model it only blows up when in a car crash with vehicles painted blue. Should be safe right? I looked at 8 out of 1800+ accidents to arrive at this, feel safer? Well you can ignore the 1792+ accidents because they did not occur in Edmonton and therefor were not significant to my model. On average my car will only explode when hitting another car coloured blue in Edmonton, that is the only relevant information needed, right?

        Long and short of it, joke.

        Everybody I posted was a 1st round pick from 2007, why should they be at the bottom of the talent pool?

        You have stumbled on a simple fact. Goal scorers tend to be selfish and like to shoot over pass, this generally can result in a higher percentage of points being generated from that shot. Especially in junior where defensive gaps and goaltending is not nearly as good as the NHL. You then say players who end up being prolific point getters tend to be these players and players who pass don’t, ok. Getting pucks on the net in the NHL is a lot more effective then trying to pass it into the back of the net, the Oil PP has proven this over the past 2 years. For a generalization, it seems to hold water.

        That is an extropolation, to try and hide behind “math” and make something more of your “generationally exciting” “theory” is what I call a joke. Why? Because the second you look, you find quite quickly aberation after aberation.

        So using only your theory as a measure. Does this mean that ALL kids expected to produce should be selfish in junior? If a player is sitting around 40 and 40, should he start avoiding making certain passes to keep his ratio solid?

        On the powerplay Nugent Hopkins played the point, this means he was finding players on the ice and providing them scoring chances via sweet passing. It also means a higher % of his shots were taken at the blueline, not a typical forward scoring area. Should he be penalized that he wasn’t planted firmly on the dot to recieve a pass and shoot from a higher scoring potential area?

        Using the “theory”, how does Huberdeau having 6 defensemen with over 30 points alter your view over Ryan playing with only 2? Should this be taken into consideration by a scouting staff measuring their even strength performance?

        In sum: You noticed a trend, tried to justify it with Math. Scream, “don’t look anywhere else!”, when people try to figure out why you apply such a simple breakdown to a complex subject. Now you are married to it on the internet, you stake your “credibility” to it everytime you post it. I understand why you are so defensive, just wish you spent the time actually doing analysis over trotting it out like the one trick pony it is in every freaking post.

        Also, ouch that hurt my feelings. This sad smily face is for you, 🙁

  • The Oilers would be well served to solidify the defense (with nobody currently in the system projecting to a #1 and maybe even #2) with Larsson at 1. It’s not just a need pick, it’s a need pick with a generational talent playing solid first line minutes in a men’s league at 18.

    Then trade up into the top 5-7 and get one of the other top 4 centers who can be just as impactful 3 years down the line in the NHL as RNH.

    In Stu we trust, he’s got a better read on this than any fan.

  • Ducey

    The columbus Blue jackets and Scott Howson are ripe for the picking at number 8. Underwhelming and in dire need of a Tom Gilbert. They would be my first choice of trading partners. Rational is that Howson needs to make the playoffs and improve his team now. Not 2 years from now. The market in columbus is starting to wane because the Jackets have not made the palyoffs for consistently. My other target is the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are stuck. A pick won’t help them now or 3 years from now. They have a team that proved they can compete. They were the top team in the 2cd half and almost made the palyoffs. Lou has some cap issues. He needs to sign Parise.A deal with the Oilers could provide him with the partner he needs to give himself some cap relief. Even if the cap goes up 2-3 million it might not be enough. Brodeur is going to get a haircut but Parise is due for substantial raise. At 5 million this season. Perhaps 7 million next? It would be close and it wouldn’t give Lou alot of other options going forward. Does he bury Rolstons 5 million dollars in the minors? Or does he call up Tambo and do a deal that would see Rolston,and the number 4 go to Edmonton for the 19th, the 31 st and a prospect.We would only have to eat Rolston contract for a year. As an RFA. Does a team like the Rangers offer Parise a 8 millions dollar contract. If I am Lou. I would call Tambo sooner than later to ensure that I have the cap space to fend off any outside offers. The draft is going to be hot.

  • Clyde Frog

    No, he is talking about an S curve, which is used to demonstrate a change in one variable compared to another. Usually its the change in something relationally to time, like the sales of a product over its product life-cycle.

    I wasn’t going to take issue with it, simply because the fundamental idea of what he is doing is so unsound statistically and rationally that it doesn’t matter how he tries to picture the data distribution in his head.

    • YES! Rickibears math is so funny its frustrating, he goes on to imply that he is a a pro scout when he just picks and chooses players that fit his mold, do some real work rickibear. Also what do you do for a living because I am curious as to why you think you know more then every person in the NHL who does this for a living…good for you you can tell everyone Daigle was a bust, guess what Crosby is a superstar…that was a tough one.

  • Take the best prospect with the worst combine , as that person has the most likelihood of growing his game , etc.. The rest have little room/space to advance much above where they are at now . Madjam’s theory of growing space for future development . How many that are maxed out already with little room to grow will get much better ?

    I wonder if Hopkins jutting chinny chin chin is going to be a glass jaw target in the bigs ? Oilers should take Larsson for several good reasons , but Tams prefer to do things backwards against coventional wisdom and not build from backend . Centerman should be Couturier with likelihood of his growing space and size make him that more attractive down the line . Landeskop has the size , skill and intangibles aplenty to make him a solid pick if a winger is our biggest need . Hopkins has that i would like to play for Oilers attitude and be first overall , where we are not so sure the others have . So Hopkins will probably be our choice for the simple reason he doesn’t mind playing here .

    • jadeddog

      You must be from Sweden and that is why you are on the Larsson train. RNH is the guy, also is Landeskog actually Landeskop in Sweden, I have noticed you refer to him as that in everything?


    I would be very upset if the Oilers did not take
    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. As he is a can’t miss kid. When I hear he has the kind of vision Gretzky had it’s a no brainier. Also the Oilers have to do everything they can to package Hemsky up and get a good puck moving guy on the back end. Why waste a first round pick for D-Man it just does not make sense as they take a few years to developed except for a Skinner and there are not many as good as him
    he had a outstanding year and will win the Rookie of The Year.But please do everything you can to trade Hemsky as he has been useless for to long
    Time to buy out Nikolai Khabibulin as he is done like dinner to. It should be a fun draft as well seeing who will be here and who will be gone?
    I hope we have a good year? That’s all we ask