RN-H: TALKING THE TALK

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins faced a horde of reporters at a meet-and-greet luncheon with NHL media today and the talented centre from the Red Deer Rebels ticked off all the right boxes in terms of saying the right things about the likelihood — certainty — he’ll be drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers Friday.

Yes, he’d relish the opportunity to play in a hockey-mad market like Edmonton. No, he isn’t bothered by the scrutiny that will certainly come in town that calls itself the City of Champions, but where the NHL team has finished 30th for two straight years and hasn’t made the playoffs in five seasons.

Nugent-Hopkins says he sees nothing but opportunity when he looks at a roster laden with youngsters like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. Oh, and, yes, he doesn’t discount the possibility that he might be ready to play alongside them in 2011-12.

That about covers it, no?

WHAT HE SAID

What would it mean to be selected No. 1?

"It would be a huge honour for me, obviously, but I mean I just want to go to a team that wants me there. I think going to Edmonton would be great just because they’re such a young talented team and there’s lots of promise for the future."

What did Nugent-Hopkins and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini discuss over dinner in Edmonton last week?

"We just talked generally. Not much talk about the draft or anything. He just wanted to get to know me a little bit. It was a really good. It was a good time."

What about the pressure of being taken first overall and playing in a city like Edmonton?

"I’ve kind of thought about that quite a bit and I’d love to have that pressure on me. It’s definitely not bad pressure to have, so, if I did get that opportunity, I always feel like I play better under pressure and stuff, so I feel like it would be a great opportunity for me."

Would having somebody like Hall, who has been under the glare of the rookie spotlight already, make the transition to a city like Edmonton easier?

"Yes, definitely. If I went there he could definitely give me some pointers and kind of help me out in that way, if I do go first. There’s a lot of young guys there, too, who have been through exactly what I’m going through right now. They’d be great to talk to and I’d learn a lot from them."

Does Nugent-Hopkins see the benefits of starting at square one with a group of young players during this rebuild mode?

"I kind of joined a rebuilding team in Red Deer a couple of years ago and I really liked that. It was great to see what we accomplished this year. I mean, Edmonton is going through the same thing. They’re rebuilding right now, so, I mean I’d love to join a rebuilding team like that and just help the ultimate goal, which is winning a Stanley Cup eventually."

Would Nugent-Hopkins be disappointed if he couldn’t make the jump to the NHL next season and returned to Red Deer?

"No, I wouldn’t be disappointed. I mean, Red Deer should have a good team next year, so if I did go first overall and I did play another year of junior, I think it would be good for me just getting bigger and stronger. Obviously, my goal is to crack the NHL and make and NHL team, whatever team it is, but if I do go back I won’t be disappointed."

Do you see your size being an issue?

"Obviously, I know I have to work on my size and my strength and stuff, but I’ve put on 10 pounds since the end of the season and I feel like I can put on another at least five pounds going into next season, so I feel like if I do that I’ll be OK to play next year."

Wouldn’t it be easier to make the transition to the NHL out of the spotlight in a non-traditional hockey market?

"No. I think going to a team where the fans are crazy about hockey would be, I mean, every kid wants to play hockey and wants to be known for playing hockey, so I mean going to a team that loves their hockey and their fans love their hockey would be incredible."

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

  • SuntanOil

    @justDOit Smyth’s skills will only depreciate from here on in, but he is still a very effective player. The man scored 23 goals last year, which would have lead the Oilers and been ties for the second most by an Oiler since… … Ryan Smyth 5 seasons ago.

  • SuntanOil

    I can live with Smitty in Cowtown, cause ww will know that the Oilers are committed to a plan. We all complain that Tambo won`t take Smitty back, but do you think Katz wants to shell out 3 million too much on a second liner on top of the 10 million hes wasting. The Oilers have said to Lombardi well gladly take Smitty back, but you take a bad contract. The Oilers are doing the right thing, and all you guys living in the past need to get over it.

  • Oilers4ever

    I dunno what all this talk is about the Flames moving Reghyr so they can bring in Smyth from LA.. the complaint last year was that they were too old… why the hell would you make this to get even older.. Buffalo likely isn’t giving a lot back for Regheyr I would think.. prospect maybe.. This deal would make no sense the Flames… The Oil have to find a way to get Smitty back… seeing him in the Ugly Blood Red Crap of the Flames would be saddening.. he’d have no hope of winning anything there.. at least in Edmonton he could mentor the kids… Calgary has no youth!!

  • Brick Tamland

    I honestly can’t see why the Flames would take on a 6.25m cap hit for a guy that is likely to sign here next July. Obviously Smytty want to be closer to his family, especially if one of his parents is ill, but Edmonton is where he wants to be.
    Offer a 3rd to LA and get it done. His veteran leadership on and off the ice would be invaluable.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Why not give them Alex Plante in exchange. They don’t take any salary on this way. This Souray situation sure has created plenty of greif for Steven, it’s become the gift that keeps on sticking it to this organization. He would’ve looked like a hero bringing Smyth back and shedding Sourays salary in the same deal. Now it looks to the fans as though he’s crapped in his own pants again.

  • DieHard

    I just don’t know. Love Smitty; hate Calgary.

    People here sure like to spend Katz’s money. I believe there is a plan that in a few years we will all be very happy about. New arena too. Smitty is not, was not part of this plan. He would take up an important spot whether it’s this or next. bla bla bla!!

    • striatic

      but in this case Katz *has* to spend money to get to the cap floor.

      since smyth is a short term contract right now, and the money needs to be spent on something this year, can you think of anything better to spend it on?

      bearing in mind that you probably don’t want to take on any long term contracts since you will need the space later to re-sign the current kids AND the number 1 picked up tomorrow.

      so yes, it is very easy to spend katz’s money .. but with the cap floor where it is, i don’t think katz’s bottom line should be much of a factor here.

  • Oilers4ever

    @Archaeologuy

    I agree with you on this. The Oilers org. has crapped the bed too many times by screwing things up and not doing them right… letting Smyth go to Craptown because ST is too much of a dink to man up and make a move because he hides under his security blanket and can’t make a decision is part of the problem this team has… As I mentioned in a post for a different thread… get some frickin balls and make a move to improve this hockey club.. because the players a 1, 19, and 31 won’t be enough… the last two years have proven that. Yes it takes time for youth to grow, but you still need the veterans around them. Smyth would help with that, regardless of what his salary is. Seriously, I think it’s the Oilers brass that drinks too much of the bad
    kool-aid and not the guys around here… When we’re 12-24-4 by the half way mark next year I hope Tambo’s ass is wrung up out of town by Katz and take KLowe with him… we need some new blood here with zero ties to the past here and a GM with some balls..

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Ender. Like Arch said, do both. We are almost 30 million under the cap. If the reported asking price is correct, theirs not one resonable excuse why the shouldn’t get done.

    • Krusher

      2 potential reasons:

      1 – Don’t forget Cogs, Smids, Pecks, and Chorns have to sign their RFA offers. Add $5 mil for that, minimum, if not more. Plus, they still have to fill a couple other roster spots. With that, they are pretty at the cap floor assuming the other roster spaces are filled with “transitional players”. Then, RNH will count 3.75 mil to the cap, and they have to leave some cap room moving forward for 4, 14, etc. About Bieksa etc., they won’t be coming here at this stage of a rebuild!

      2 – LET MPS PLAY! It will be a miracle if the Oil are in a playoff hunt come February. Mullet or no mullet, no playoffs in 2012. The only benefit of him being here is if he is willing to play 3rd line minutes, and maybe on the right side.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        1. They will still be criminally below the cap.

        2. Back to back last place teams aren’t allowed to worry about “making room” for 20+ goal scorers.

  • shau_co

    Hall – Horc – Eberle;
    Smyth – Gagner – Hemsky;
    MPS – RNH – Omark;
    Jones – Cogs – Hartkainen;
    Brule

    That’s a young group of forwards even with Smyth being added.

  • DieHard

    I really wouldn’t mind if Smitty played with Hemsky and Gagner. But I think Id’s rather wait till July 1st and see what shakes from the draft, free agency and LA’s need to dump salary cap.

  • Shapeman

    The only thing I could find on Blum for Smid is on what looks to be a fake Dreger account with a single post from Feb 22 saying “EDM trades Ladislav Smid to NSH for Jonathan Blum”
    On the real Dreger one his last post was four hours ago about Regehr

  • Seriously....Gord?

    Smyth to Clagary would suck from an oilers perspective…but, think about the benifits long term. We are 2+ years ahead of the flames on the rebuild. We have prospects coming, we have lots of potential…

    What do they have? Sweet “F” all. Taking Smyth, means they give up one more draft pick in the deal. They will be maxed to the cap/near the cap. Lose out on Cammeleri. They can’t dump alot of salary… that means, 1 more year before they actually could begin rebuilding.

    So there we go! When we start competing for a cup, we can begin to expect easy points against the flames as we run there show year after year on our annual cup runs. It will be great.

    At the end of the day, if Smyth fits into the rebuild plan, pull the trigger. If it’s going to send the plan off track…don’t make the move.

  • Mikeyboy

    Robin – thanks to you and Jason for the excellent coverage of the draft. Couple of points I would be interested if you could shed some light on:

    1. Has the general consensus around town been that the Flyers got hosed in both of these deals from the contacts you’ve spoken to?

    2. In your opinion is RNH as first a done deal? It seems like the Larsson camp has been gaining some momentum over the last couple of days with a few of the scouting reports putting him ahead of RNH.

    Thanks.

  • Mikeyboy

    Hey I am new to here but would like to say that getting Ryan Smyth back with his team loyalty, experience, attitude and hard work etc, is such a plus no matter whether he palys third to second line minutes and the powerplay. He would get his share of fifteen minutes a game regardless and his way of leading the team is too much to lose by not trying to trade for him with say a prospect and third to fourth rounder.
    I choose for him coming back to the Oilers than having another J.F. Jacques, Fraser or Foster type player who do not impact a game despite being decent players in their own rights.

  • Mikeyboy

    I also have to say that Philadelphia did some major excellent work today and now got Brayden Schenn, Simmonds, Voracek, and that great eigth overall pick for tomorrow’s draft. I am one though who does hope that the Oilers go for RNH because, with defence not yet established on the team and that with next years draft being super loaded withfirst round defenceman picks, the Oilers are in a good position to have the offence moving forward now.
    Besides we do have a good to very good future set of defenceman too with Whitney, Gilbert, Smid, Peckham, Petry, Marincin, Tuebert, Chorney,etc.
    Bogosian is seemingly available, Burns is also, and then there can be great picks with choices like Connor Murphy (if not seriously injury prone), Morrow, Oleksiak, Brodin, and even trying for Florida’s third overall pick in, say a trade of Cogliano and Hemsky, of which would get Larsson or Hamilton anyways.

  • Krusher

    If Tambo fails to bring Smyth back, then we know his talk of making the playoffs this year was all bluster. This is his best chance at landing an actual veteran player, and he seems casual about the whole thing. If he truly wanted to make the playoffs, he would get Smytty.

  • Krusher

    Not sure why everyone seems to be convinced that Schenn and Johansen are better prospects than Nuge long term. Go back and look at their draft year stats, not nearly equal to Nuge.

  • DoubleJ

    With Carter and Richards in play, I wounder why or if the Oilers were ever in the mix for these type of players. Colorado is shopping Stastny why wouldn’t the Oilers be going after him. Wiess is not in the same league as Stastny but still an upgrade on what we have. We need a number one center on this team in the worst way.

    Would Gagner and the 19 th pick get you Stastny? I love Smyth, but I’d rather spend the money on someone like Stastny.

    Let’s face it RNH becomes Stastny in the nhl it’s a win for the Oilers, but he might only be as good as Gagner is right now. I would swap picks with the AVS if we could end up with Stastny. And then draft Larson. We need a number one center. Let’s hope for our sake we get one with RNH. Because I’m sure we could land Stastny who is a proven number one if we were willing to pony up.

    I’m all over the place on this post, but you get my idea I hope.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Steve is still assessing Paul Holmgrens offer, much like he’s with Howsons proposal on that 8th overall as well.

      Till Katzs’ patience wears thin and starts making some hockey decisions himself, this is what we’re stuck with. Not one person is capable of making decisions on their own. Kevin Lowes “it’s all greek to me” reference on OC tells me few take Steven’s round table voting sessions serious.