Is anybody else just a little bit nervous about the state of the left shoulder of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? I thought so.

History aside – a shoulder injury and a member of the Edmonton Oilers, what could possibly go wrong? – Nugent-Hopkins will spend this week in town to rest and strengthen the shoulder he injured against the Chicago Blackhawks last season while awaiting the results of an MRI.

This comes on the heels of Nugent-Hopkins being named to Team Canada’s selection camp on Monday. Adding to the drama, the Oilers aren’t saying much about his status (do they ever?) because they can’t comment on players during the lockout. What little we get comes by way of Hockey Canada scout Kevin Prendergast.

"From what we understand, there’s nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder. It’s just been bothering him a bit from last year," Prendergast said today. "They said they were giving him an MRI to make sure. We’ll see when they get the results back. We’d rather know sooner than later."

Wouldn’t we all?


It goes without saying, at least it should, that if there’s even a sliver of doubt about the status of his shoulder, the Oilers shouldn’t let Nugent-Hopkins near Team Canada, or send him back on the ice in Oklahoma City, for that matter. That’s a no-brainer . . . right?

If Nugent-Hopkins, 19, who has 20 points in the 19 games he’s played with the Barons, doesn’t represent Canada at this WJC he’s out of eligibility, so he won’t get another chance. If a week of rest and rehab and the results of the MRI don’t show that he’s absolutely 100 per cent ready for that opportunity, the last chance aspect doesn’t matter a bit.

Nugent-Hopkins has 15 or so seasons ahead of him in the NHL and if he continues to develop as many people believe he will, he’ll likely get another crack at wearing a Team Canada jersey – if not at the next Winter Olympics then at the games after that (assuming we still have NHLers in the mix).

What the Oilers don’t need is to see those next 15 NHL seasons jeopardized by a decision that rushes Nugent-Hopkins into the international junior spotlight even a little bit. They don’t need another franchise cornerstone with a bum shoulder. They already have one in Taylor Hall, who struggled with chronic problems for years until having surgery to repair it.

That’s a no-brainer . . . right?

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

  • Reality Check to the head

    I don’t think there is a team in the NHL who would loan an injured player to the WJ team, never mind the number 1 pick and their number 1 centre.
    I actually commend the Oilers for taking him out of the lineup and giving him a true medical assessment. If we are losing a season (which everyday closer to January is a day closer to the proverbial cliff), then might as well have him go under the knife.

  • Wait, did he hurt his shoulder again?

    Or is all of this just based off his injury from last season? The shoulder seems to be fine so far in the AHL, not sure how that is somehow drastically different than the WJC…

    I mean, if we’ve learned anything from Ales Hemsky (other than the ability to hate) it’s that shoulders are a grab bag at the best of times, but this seems like it’s being overly cautious.

  • Truth

    IMO he re-injured it with about 2 minutes left in the second last game (against the Aeros on Thursday, Nov. 29). RNH got hit hard into the boards from 2-3 feet out near the Barons bench and went off immediately. His line stayed out for nearly the rest of the third period with another center taking his place. I wasn’t too concerned after RNH played in overtime and the shootout and then the next whole game, but I’m willing to bet that’s when he re-aggravated it.

    Unless the Oilers have no idea at all what they are doing, RNH would have been doing this MRI and “rehab” much prior to a week before the WJC camp and 2 months into the AHL season if he had been experiencing pain since day 1. It’s quite obvious he re-injured it.

    If you don’t believe so, please explain why they wouldn’t rehab and do more tests while he is only missing AHL games, not NHL games. This is the exact reason Taylor Hall sat out the first bunch of games. Unless, of course, they already know he needs season ending surgery.

    ~~~~~The Oilers haven’t let anyone play through a shoulder injury knowing major surgery was required ~~~~~

  • Players play through pain a lot but they shouldn’t have to play through injury.

    In the case of RNH, with the lockout on, there’s no good reason for him to play through either. It might be great for RNH to light it up in the AHL and it would be a nice cap to his junior career to play in the WJC, but neither is worth risking the long-term status of the shoulder.

    He earns his pay cheque as an NHL player. It’s foolish to risk that.

  • Chris.

    Let’s pretend which h should not be a stretch around here. If RNH is held off the WJ team but plays for the OILERS or OKC in the near future – do we have a soft player, cautious Oilers Management or pissed off JR program ?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As his body physically matures, his shoulders will only get stronger. As long as there’s no damage to the labrum, he’ll be fine.
    The next 15-20 lbs he puts on over the next 5 yrs will do a great deal to hold these injuries at bay. Ryan is still really only a kid playing a mans game.

    This story is much adu bout nothing it appears. If there was damage to the labrum, no way he;s even allowed to play in the AHL.

  • Sometimes learning from past mistakes is hard. Often, injuries are attitude based. Coddling players leads to a bad attitude and laziness.

    By RNH proving he can play in the AHL not fully healed or by re-injuring a weak shoulder, he has proven he is ready for the Canadian Team, and more importantly, taking over from the soon to be departed Hemsky as the wildly gifted player who can’t play healthy.

    It is important in a lost, meaningless now season, for the future of the team (ya that includes you Hall) to play so that such elite talent doesn’t miss out on learning their role in the Oiler’s system. Show promise, never reach it because it hurts too much.

    Very important.

  • watkinator

    Having watched the Oilers be smart about Hall’s shoulder recently I’m cautiously optimistic that they will do the right/conservative thing if RNH’s shoulder isn’t 100%. They know what they have and won’t risk it for this tournament. But it would still be sick to watch him tear up the world for the Great White North if he’s really ready.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The thing that gets me is where did this all come from? He was playing great in OKC all year and we heard nothing about his shoulder or anything of that matter. Yet all of a sudden he is out with a shoulder injury the second after he is named to Team Canada? Little fishy and kinda freaky.

    If he is fine to play in OKC or Team Canada he should go play with Team Canada IMO. You only live once and you only have small amount of time in your career to represent Canada at world juniors and in Canada for that matter. He needs to be there cause not only will it be great if he wins Gold for himself but it will also prep him for pressure games he and the Oilers are destined to have in the coming years.

    Let the kid make the decision for himself if his shoulder is A-OK, I sure know if I was in his shoes I would be going with Team Canada.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    It’s a nice way of telling Hockey Canada, I don’t want to play.

    If his shoulder was actually bothering him, he wouldn’t be playing in OKC right now.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I thought Nuge’s agent said he really wanted to play? If anything, this is the Oilers being cautious if he reaggravated the shoulder the past couple of games. You can’t blame them based on the number of shoulder problems the team has had since the lockout………

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I think like management, the fans are all for Nuge missing the tournament if in fact his shoulder is injured. This seems to be the manifestation of all those cries of ‘he’s too small’.

    Is there anyone ever in the NHL that had a career ending shoulder injury? Ankles yes, knees sure, concussions absolutely, but I can’t think of anyone who’s shoulder prevented them from having a long NHL career.

    On another note, what is happening in Europe? I read today Smid is second on his (albeit very poor team) in scoring with 14 points, and has no PM the entire month of November. Plus Hemskey, Gagner, and Omark are all doing great.

    Every year with the Oilers we have to take the good with the bad, and there always seems to be more bad than good. But during the lockout, other than Klefbomb going down with an Oiler (new name for shoulder injury), there has been a ton of good.

    I propose a few what ifs. What if Smid has further developed and rounded out his game? What if Hemsky decides he’s not ready to go quietly into the night as part of a trade package? What if Gagner has become that second line center that can be counted in for 50 points? What if Whitney is healthy? What if Schultz can do in the NHL what he does so well in the NHL? And what if Yak can be better with better linemates? I think the Oilers (again if there’s a season) are going to stun opponents this year.