Fast Times (Hurry September)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a ridiculous talent. However, there’s more than quick hands and a high hockey IQ when it comes to Burnaby Ryan.

Sometimes you can’t believe your eyes–or ears. During yesterday’s Nation Radio broadcast, I asked Edmonton Oilers Skating and Skills Coach Steve Serdacnhy about Ryan Nugent Hopkins and his footspeed.

  • Question: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may not be the most impressive straightaway skater–because of age and development–but he has that great first step quickness. Do you measure that and if you do how do you measure that?
  • Serdachny: I’d probably agree with your first statement that has incredible first step quickness but I disagree with your other comment. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a dynamic skater who in my opinion would probably be at an upper end NHL speed right now. He’s quick and strong, has explosive quickness and dynamic speed. He has multi-directional ability and the control he has and his edges and mobility on and off the puck are exceptional. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would fit in the category of very strong NHL skater and he’s just going to get better.

Leading up to the NHL draft, Nugent-Hopkins skating ability was described by ISS as "excellent" and that he had "an explosive stride." Various sources spoke about his "first step quickness" which I referenced in the interview. Two sources I found before draft day focused on skating as being this strong an asset:

  • Grant McCagg, TSN: Quick elusive skater with superb edges.
  • Kirk Luedeke, Bruins Draft Watch: Outstanding skater with explosive burst, top-end speed, excellent lateral agility and superb edgework. Shifty, with quick feet and the ability to accelerate rapidly over short spaces.

As time rolls along and a team like the Oilers drafts a gifted kid like Nugent-Hopkins, it’s important to document the scouting reports in order to know what we can expect (and then later look back on to compare the player’s performance with expectations).

There were some rumblings this week about Nugent-Hopkins and his impact compared to Taylor Hall one year ago. I believe it’s important to remember that RNH is about 6 months younger than Taylor Hall was at this time last year. Miles of difference between an April and November prospect in one year. It’s also important to remember that despite being slender, RNH is very elusive and part of that skill set involves his playing at (what will be around) 175 pounds this fall.

I’ve been following the NHL draft since 1971; most scouting reports over the years have been incredibly accurate and the reports we get in this era are exceptional and detailed. I think Steve Serdachny’s account of RNH’s skating ability should be considered in his pre-NHL scouting report. Beyond a quick first step there is incredible balance and mobility along with NHL calibre straightaway speed.

Hurry September.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    If RNH and Taylor Hall can become even 80 point players in their mid 20’s, and one or two of Eberle, Paajarvi, or Omark (or any of the wildcard prospects, Hartikainen, Lander etc.) can become 40-50 point guys with regularity, this team will be set up front. Question is will the Oilers develop 3-4th line talent the way they seem to be developing 1st and 2nd line guys.

    Now we just need 2 of Marincin, Musil, Klefbom, Teubert, or Petry to become top 2-3 d-men and have some reasonable goaltending, and back to the playoffs.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    LT, off topic but what is the name of the song playing at the start of each clip of the podcast?

    I know it but can’t place it. Driving me nuts!


      • knee deep in it

        lowetide wrote

        If it wasn’t on Physical Graffiti or London Calling chances are I haven’t heard it. 🙂

        wow, 2 pretty cool albums. Physical Grafiti was my first favorite album. Just about wore it out.

        I assume you were at the Clash concert in Edmonton circa 85?? It is kind of a blur for me but I was told we had a great time.

  • Devon

    Hey Lowetide, how do you see things playing out for Cogliano and Brule this fall. Given that they’ve both been trade bait in the past would ST trade either or both of them at camp if RNH is definetly a better option as the third center behind Gagne and Horcoff. Or will he keep both around around as insurance incase injuries happens? Also who do you see winning the last defensive spot between Petry and Peckham if things stay the same right now? Sorry for the question just thought I’d pick your brain and see what you think. Anyone else want to give me their opinion feel free to as well.

    • Lowetide

      I suspect Brule will be here–either on LTIR or on the roster–until NHL teams are convinced he’s healthy. Cogs? I think Renney likes him a lot and may have enough sway to keep him on the roster another year.

      I think Peckham has a job and Petry doesn’t. Peckham will be on the third pairing and Ptry will have to wait for an injury.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I like the position that we are in right now. We have shored up the depth so that if RNH doesn’t quite seem ready for the NHL, then it’s not an issue. If he is ready to play top 6 minutes, then he stays. Good position.

  • The question is where can RNH learn to win faceoffs? The big league or the dub? Who is in Edmonton to teach him? Who is in Red Deer? If he makes the team will they stick him on the wing as many really young centers are in their rookie year? Will there be room? I wonder who will be involved in the upcoming trade and if it will happen before season start?


    So many questions and so much time!

    • justDOit

      Hopefully Belanger can show the young centers a thing or two about what it takes to achieve 55% FO winning percentage.

      Watching some vintage Gretzky this weekend, from ’82 against the Kings in the playoffs. Gretz would hound the puck if he lost the faceoff, eventually making something happen – relentless. They also mentioned that he was playing at 168 lbs.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    LT or anyone on here:

    Do you think the Oilers would be a better team (Or better for future years) if they did the “rumored” trades.

    Gilbert and Cogs for Dubinsky (And a pick?)
    Gagner for Bogosion?

    Getting Dubinsky would be an upgrade over Gagner just for everything he brings to the table, but I don’t know if Bogosion would replace Gilbert, however if he did take that next step that would be unreal he is only 20 isnt he?

  • BArmstrong

    I’m pretty certain Phoebe Cates cracks LT’s starting line up. I recall using the wired remote on the old BetaMax to rewind that scene a few times myself.

    LT, the segment with Kirk Luedeke from Bruins Draft Watch on last weeks Nation Radio was great. He’s a bundle of knowledge. Thanks for posting the shows so quickly – nice to pop them on my iPod and give them a listen whilst I perform my lawn farming chores.

  • Shapeman

    RNH and Hall genuinely excite me. Hall will get 35 next year guarunteed. He just had that click last year before he got injured. I saw the same thing with Stamkos at the Worlds before he got injured. I can’t agree with you anymore LT. Can’t wait to see RNH in camp!

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    I, for one, kind of hope that the Nuge gets sent back down. I’d rather drive to Red Deer and pay, like, 15$ or whatever to go see Hopkins play.

    After reading these comments I’m thinking I might be paying hundreds of dollars if I want to see him at all next year.

    What’s his nickname gonna be when he makes the bigs? My guess is “Noogie”. You know, like those things your uncles and cousins used to give you.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    i am excited for the Oilers’ season to start too, but hurry September? We get two months of summer per year, I am sitting on my balcony in Osoyoos (south of Penticton) thanking God for this beautiful view and the warm weather.

    September can wait.

  • From everything I’ve read, to the interviews I’ve seen, I think we can safely assume that RNH will be just fine and could make the club just based on the development camp, which is just great, for that reason my attention has switch to Anton Lander. The skinny/rumor on this guy is that he can be as good or better then Gagner and infinitely better then Cogliano, a natural leader and may need no seasoning in the AHL, Any thoughts?

    @ Oilcan

    Gilbert and Cogs for Dubinsky (And a pick?) Gagner for Bogosion?

    I can’t see the Rangers handing over Dubinsky that easy. As for Bogosion, I was listening to an interview with the Jets GM and he said that Bogosion was off the market. Now, I realize that GM’s sometimes say things but mean something else, but in this case I think there evaluating what the have first before making any trades.

  • paul wodehouse

    …LT there’s some talk i’ve heard that RNH would be included in a trade involving the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Red Deer Rebels so as RNH could be more locally showcased when the team decides to keep him in junior one more year…while i’m on the ‘keep him in junior’ bandwagon can you shed any light on this from a realistic point of view ?

    whether he’s NHL ready or not imo he could benefit playing in junior AND by being here with the big boys team close by…

  • Love Monkey

    a high skilled centerman with elite level skating, cause those come along everyday.

    ~can we go back in time and pick larsson~

    i’m stoked for the future….very near future that is.

  • Mark-LW

    Hey Lowetide,i s RNH’s fate somewhat out of his hands with Lander in the mix? The way I see it you have three locks at centre right now, Gagner, Horcoff, and Belanger; If RNH makes the team do you want to throw him in head first onto the first or second line and bump horcoff/gagner and belanger down to 3 and 4? Or would the Oilers be more comfortable keeping Lander, if he performs well in TC of course, with the club as the fourth line centre?

    • Lowetide

      I think RNH has to play in the top 6 if he plays. I’d guess they would go RNH, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger with the first two C’s getting the easy minutes and the most skilled wingers and the two veterans getting the tougher minutes.

      They would probably roll fairly even at even strength. That would be my guess.

  • Training camp and pre-season are going to be kick ass this year! Finally the Oilers have players in a real battle for ice time and jobs. I don’t think anybody can be penciled in anywhere which is great; imagine RNH beating out Horcoff for 1st line center. Horcoff getting beat out by Gagner for 2nd Horcoff and Belanger fighting it out for 3rd and Lander forcing a trade of Cogliano! Or put in any other combination that may happen! The thing is it’s not set like the last 5 or so years. Bring on September!

  • Love Monkey

    Ok, focus… Back to hockey…

    I don’t think Cogliano gets shipped out. Renney likes him so at worst, he’s a 13/14. But what’s wrong with some depth? The last few years, Cogs has been arguably a top 6 player on a crappy team (or at worst a top 9 guy). But if he’s now a bubble player, that tells me we’re making progress. He’s now below RNH, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger, and soon, Lander on the depth chart.

    • Love Monkey

      I think there is enough depth at Center right now to get rid of both Cogs and Brule and not even have to worry. Lander and VV are both good prospects for the position and then you add in RNH, Gags, Hocoff, Belanger. VV did pretty good when he was called up last year and I believe he is still on a two way contract. He would be a good call up for injuries and wouldn’t tie up a roster spot except for when you need him. Cogs and Brule are now expendable.

  • Shapeman

    When Asked: What he needs to Improve. He said he was told he needs to shoot more. he said he needs to work on his shot.

    Better in the Dub.

    //I think there is enough depth at Center right now to get rid of both Cogs and Brule and not even have to worry.//

    Yes lets trade our best penalty killer last year. Cogs need to be our 4th line RW, who PK’s 2:30 a night. He is the second highest hitting forward on our team.

    • Hemmertime

      Belanger is better than cogs on the PK. So is Hocoff, they will be the PK centers this year. And Ryan Jones will be the 4th line RW. His contract states they have more faith in him than Cogs.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        How’s Belangers footspeed, is it anywhere near where Coglianos is? Not big on this Belanger signing, especially when we may have to showcase Gagner this coming season.

        Hindsight is always 20/20 of course, i have to think with whats happened this summer with Hopkins,Smyth and Eager, it may limit the opportunities for Belanger and Ryan Jones. Have to believe we’ll see atleast one of these guys on waivers before seasons end.

        • D-Man

          Belanger is a specific role. Speed isn’t an issue because he is going to be more of a defensive player. Cogs’ speed would be good on offense but he can’t seem to score. Take a look at Strudwick, his stats were very different on the PK and he actually exceled there and speed killed him at regular strength. Thats the kind of position Belanger is going to be in. The bottom six and more specifically bottom 3 are role guys they don’t need to be the most talented or the fastest. They need to fill a specific area for the team to allow them to compete in all situations. Just because a player has speed doesn’t mean he fits a role.

  • Love Monkey

    I love hockey and all. But Lowetide, its July 11th and we have had exactly TWO nice days this year so im pretty sure september can hold off a little. So to you sir….BLAM!!!…..My JUNK!!!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Feel fortunate that in the last two drafts the decision has been made for the Oilers in regards to whom they should be drafting first overall. Can’t stand it when the Oilers try telling Central Scouting they know more about hockey than they do.

    Hockey season is no doubt drawing closer, the days are getting shorter and that chill in the air in the mornings and evenings. NHL teams need to add some optional summer training sessions in July and August like they do in the NFL.

  • SuntanOil

    That six month difference in the ages of Hall and RNH is huge. I still say that if this year is about development then leave the Nuge in Red Deer after 9 games.

    @nWo4life – Love is Gone – David Guetta

    There was a time in my life when all I wanted in life was to be waiting at the edge of that pool to help Phoebe dry off. I remember it well – circa 1982 to now.

    • SuntanOil

      Sorry man age is just a number and doesn’t really mean anything. The only thing that matters is what stage of developlement RNH is in and I don’t think we will really know until we can compare him to actual NHL players.

        • justDOit

          Still isn’t age determining, some develop faster than others and some develop slower. All you have to do is go into a grade 10 classroom and you can see that. Age is still just a number nothing more.

          • SuntanOil

            When Hall made the team he had developed as much as he could in junior. He had nothing to prove at that level. The same can’t be said about RNH.

            The six months isn’t just a nuimber. It means that Hall had three full years in junior before his draft. The Nuge has only had two.

            Have we learned nothing from our handling of Sam Gagner?

          • SuntanOil

            And what exactly is it that the Nuge can learn in Red Deer? To get bigger, to shoot more, to win draws.

            First his style of play requires him to be on the smaller side.

            Shoot more, how old is hemsky and we still say he needs to shoot more.

            Win draws, its not going to happen in a year more like 3-4 years as he gets stronger.

            I don’t see the WHL as a place that really benefits RNH. AHL would be the ideal place but the league rules don’t allow it. If he comes into TC and proves he can play he should, and likely will, get a spot in the NHL.

          • SuntanOil

            I don’t disagree that he likely will get a spot in the NHL. I just think that after nine games he will know exactly what he is going back to junior to work on. In Red Deer he can work on things that he won’t get to work on here. He will get stronger, he can kill penalties there, he can be a leader there.

            Furthermore, if we time it right he will spend a bunch of time before the new year playing for Team Canada at the WJC. You can’t convince me that this won’t do more for his development and confidence than throwing him out the gate against seasoned veteran men in a losing cause every night.

            The kid is great young talent. He is not Superman. There is no sense putting his development at risk when we don’t have to. A third full season in junior can only help him.

            We’ll just have to disagree on this.

          • D-Man

            You make a fair argument but you can’t compare Gagner to RNH… Gagner was a six overall pick and wasn’t nearly as good as RNH at the same age…

            With the signing of Belanger, RNH has to earn his spot this year… Unless Cogs gets an unrealistic arbitration contract that the Oil walk away from, RNH will be in tough to make the team as he will not be ahead of Gagner, Horcoff and Belanger… If RNH is lights out at training camp, I could see him slide between MPS and Omark on our 3rd line… He might get 2nd unit PP time, but otherwise he’ll be ‘sheltered’ against the top tier defensemen…

          • D-Man

            And if the past proves anything Cogs will get somewhere in the 2 mill range at the arbitration and I think that is too much for what he provides and the Oil let him go.

          • SuntanOil

            I think the reality of it is that they don’t want to sign another center without moving one out first. The Brule situation has handcuffed them a bit it that regard. Not only that roster spots are very few with all the signings. They are allowed a 23 man roster right. I believe they already have a lock on 20 positions with the only up in the air position available being 4thC. Hordi being a in and out player through the season. If RNH/lander/VV makes the team thats 21 a 7th dman makes 22 and if brule isn’t on the LTIR thats 23. RNH won’t be able to go back to Junior after ten games and won’t be able to go to the AHL either. Cogs and brule are 1 way contracts and need to clear waivers and the Oilers can’t do anything with Brule until he is cleared to play. Taking on another 1way contract just doesn’t make sense in the current situation as i believe the oilers are counting on RNH making the team. If Cogs is still available after TC and RNH goes back to juniors then they would sign him. But then again they may see Lander as a better option with a 2way contract.

          • SuntanOil

            Gagner was pretty lights out at that camp IIRC. A lot of it was from the momentum gained in the Summit Series.
            I agree that RNH will have a tougher line up to crack than Sam did. This is probably where we agree. You are of the opinion that if RNH can outplay everyone than he deserves the spot on the team and should be able to justify it all year round. In my mind he is a shiny bauble right now, and we have to be careful not to overvalue his play at camp. We ARE going top be wowed by him, because that is what RNH does. We just need to remain cognizant of the fact that even if he looks ready he may still have more to gain from dominating a lesser league this year.

  • Love Monkey

    What ridiculous propaganda! All those kids your braggin about will only lead you to another bottom five finish. Those kids will have targets the size of watermelons on them next year and will not flourish in such a crappy environment. Way to waste so many quality ELC’s in a span of 2 years. That’s not gonna catch up to u…lol

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The ELC’s will take care of themselves. Not all of these kids will turn out to be Superstars making 7 mill per season. If we’re very fortunate, maybe 2 of the Fab 4 make it there within their first 7 years.

      Every kid playing in the NHL today has a target on him the size of a watermelon, i would expect these kids will be no different than the rest being headhunted. These kids aren’t stupid, they’ll get in and out of places like Dallas (Souray) and Pheonix (Torres) unscathed.