In the short and impressive history of the Edmonton Oilers, there have been precious few rookies who have reached 50 points in a season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is one of them.
With his point last night, The Nuge reached the 50 point plateau in his debut season. It’s a rare item. How rare? Consider the number of 50 point rookies in Oiler history:
- Jari Kurri (80-81) 75gp, 32-43-75
- Jason Arnott (93-94) 78gp, 33-35-68
- Dave Lumley (79-80) 80gp, 20-38-58
- Glenn Anderson (80-81) 58gp, 30-23-53
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11-12) 58, 18-32-50
That’s it, that’s all. Not Hall, not Eberle, not Gagner not Rob Schremp. How rare is it on a league wide basis? Pretty rare. Two or three most seasons in the last decade or so, with the Evgeni Malkin 85-point spike and the Ovechkin/Crosby debut being the real eye poppers since the lockout.
RNH managed the feat in fewer than 60 games and in a (somewhat) dead ball era. And he did it at age 18. There are so many up arrows on the Nuge the mind boggles.
HE’S BEHIND IN THE CALDER RACE!
Well some members of the MSM have suggested that Gabriel Landeskog is ahead on boxcars, and he certainly looks good when you read them and his eyepopping plus minus. However, it’s important to look at what these kids are facing and the kinds of results each player has delivered.
There seems to be a gathering impression that Landeskog is facing the toughest opposition and that the Nuge is getting his points on the PP and againnst the soft parade at evens. Is that true?
LET’S HAVE A CLOSER LOOK
- Gabriel Landeskog 80, 22-29-51 +23
- RNH 58, 18-32-50 -3
The two items in Landeskog’s favor are +23 and the fact that he’s one point ahead of the Nuge overall. RNH’s advantages are the points-per-game ratio and the fact he’s doing it on an inferior hockey team. Although the two teams have scored about the same number of goals, the Avs are 160-159 GF-GA at evens and the Oilers are 149-172 in those situations. Basically, both players are performing better plus minus than an average player would on their respective teams.
Landeskog’s expected plus minus would be even, so his +23 is a monster positive. For Nugent-Hopkins, an expected plus minus on his team would be about -5, so he’s a little better than average based on some quick calculations.
Advantage Landeskog, but I think it’s pretty clear both are exceptional young players. RNH would have an expected point total of about 69 if he’d stayed healthy and at that point it’s probably game over and Burnaby Ryan wins the day.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE FANCY ADVANCED STATS?
Well, they also paint a picture. First though, we have to agree that comparing players from two different teams is unwise, except to say things like "this player faced the second toughest available opponent for his team" and vice versa. Direct comparison or just listing the result makes the water muddy. Agreed?
- RNH 5×5 ZONE START: Easiest available. 62.2%ZS, end at 54.1%
- RNH 5×5 QUAL COMP: 2nd line, 5th overall among Oiler F’s. It isn’t the soft parade
- RNH 5×5 CORSI REL: 4.1, 5th among Oiler F’s
- RNH 5X5/60: 2.02, 4th among Oiler F’s
- RNH 5X4/60: 7.79, league’s best number among F’s who play 2 mins or more
- Landeskog 5×5 ZONE START: 5th easiest available. 54.1%ZS, end at 51.5%
- Landeskog 5×5 QUAL COMP: 1st line, toughest available. Extremely unusual for a rookie
- Landeskog 5×5 CORSI REL: 14.3, best among Avalanche forwards
- Landeskog 5X5/60: 1.79, tied for 3rd among Avalanche forwards
- Landeskog 5X4/60: 3.85, 6th among Avalanche forwards
Some great information here. Remember when scouts told us Landeskog was more "NHL ready" than the rest of the 2011 draft group? Well, that was an understatement. The young man is facing tough opponents and delivering a wonderful CorsiRel, meaning he’s already impacting things in a positive way. If he never gets better than he is today, Landeskog will be a wonderful player.
RNH’s numbers are different and yet no less spectacular. Consider the fact that as a rookie he has posted a wild, beyond comprehension powerplay number. The Oilers might have been wise to use him more this season (RNH spends 3:05 a night on the PP, about as much as Shawn Horcoff) if they were serious about winning hockey games.
Beyond that, he’s also delivering nice offense (better than Landeskog) at even strength. Now, he’s facing softer opposition, but then again it’s the second toughest available (2line opponents would still be veteran men who can impact the game). Good lord these are terrific hockey players.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Landeskog. His underlying numbers are strong too, and the fact that he’s scored 51 points facing NHL best opponents is just this side of impossible.
Nugent-Hopkins. He’s done more to impact the game’s most difficult discipline (goals for) than any other rookie, and the PP number alone is insane.
Who wins the Calder? Both are worthy. I would choose the Nuge.
It’s a "best of" Nation Radio today, as we have hand picked interviews over these last months that are worth repeating. Among our guests are:
- Former Oiler Sean Brown, who talks about his NHL career, injuries and their impact, and what he’s doing these days.
- Todd Nelson, coach of the OKC Barons made a January appearance and gave great insight into Teemu Hartikainen, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and others.
- Canucks Corner’s Tom Benjamin was fascinating in discussing Mark Howe, the impact of fighting on the game and what to do about the trap.
- Skip Krake, former WHA Oiler and former Boston Bruin told us about Ace Bailey’s life, the WHA experience and original NHL expansion. A wonderful time.
- Michael Spiedel and I talked about the draft and early moments of free agency during this July 3rd interview. Interesting to listen again and see how things worked out.
- Jeff Krushell dropped by in late October and gave tremendous insight into player recovery. It’s a gem and he delivers all kinds of information that is relevant.
These are six of my favorite interviews over the last year, hope you tune in to hear them. Noon on Team 1260 Edmonton and the full show will be up on the Nation soon.