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.