UPDATE ON NUGENT-HOPKINS

There has been lots of speculation lately on the health of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 2011 first overall pick had surgery on April 23rd to repair a torn labrum, and recently I’ve noticed some suggesting he will be out for a significant portion of next season.

Rather than speculate, I decided to put in a call to his agent Rick Valette to get an update on RNH’s shoulder.

The main question we all want to know is what is the timeline on when he’s projected to be ready to play next year, and Valette shed some light on that.

"If you look at where he is at today, I think there is a very good chance he’ll be ready for opening night," said Valette. "If he’s not ready to go, then we won’t rush it, but he’s already ahead of schedule and barring a setback it’s looking good that he’ll be ready to start the season."

Valette also wanted to clarify why he, along with the Oilers medical staff and Nugent-Hopkins waited to have surgery.

"Surgery is always the last option, that is why he and the Oilers tried to rehab it first. In the end it just wasn’t getting better, but it made sense to exhaust every other option first," said Valette.

Valette sounded very optimistic that Nugent-Hopkins will be stronger and healthier when he returns for the 2013/2014 season. 

When Taylor Hall had his shoulder surgery last season he returned at the start of November, and proceeded to have a great campaign in the AHL and then with the Oilers. The Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins are hoping that surgery will help his overall game as much as it helped Hall.

I’ve had a few sources tell me that Hall’s shoulder had more "issues" than Nugent-Hopkins, so they are confident his rehab will be shorter. It is impossible to predict how a player will respond, but Nugent-Hopkin’s rehab is off to a good start.

WILL RNH IMPACT MACT?

Some have wondered if RNH’s health will impact how general manager Craig MacTavish looks at his roster? I don’t see it having much of a factor. Whether RNH is ready for opening night or two weeks later, I believe MacTavish has a plan in place that won’t be altered by a few weeks of recovery.

If Nugent-Hopkins was going to be sidelined until January or February, then it might have altered his plan, but MacTavish is looking big picture. I’d like to believe the Oilers are past the point of looking for quick fixes and band-aid solutions. MacTavish wants to build a roster than is deep enough and talented enough to overcome an injury or two.

QUICK HITS

  • A huge thank you to everyone who came to the King/Queen Karaoke event this past Friday at On The Rocks. It went off better than I expected and there were some killer competitors. I will have some videos up in the near future. We raised just over $9,500 for the MS Society. Thank you to On the Rocks and Oodle Noodle for their generous donations of gift cards. Much appreciated.
     
  • Congratulations to Mayor Mandel on a great career. I loved how he always pushed to make Edmonton better and how he tried to convince Edmontonians to not settle for 2nd rate. I hope our next mayor doesn’t "settle" and looks to advance our city. I’m hearing that Councillors Karen Leivovici and Don Iveson will join Kerry Diotte in the race for mayor. There is also a chance Councillor Amarjeet Sohi might throw his hat in the ring. It will be an interesting race.
     
  • The more I watch the NHL playoffs, the more obvious it becomes that the Oilers desperately need to improve their blueline. They need another puck mover and players who are physically stronger.
     
  • I’d take Andrew Shaw on my team any day. The Blackhawks’ rookie is fearless. He plays hard every shift, has decent hands, agitates and delivers big hits for a small guy. The Oilers need to find some players who are as competitive as Shaw, regardless of size.
     
  • If Rick Nash is your go-to player, your team will never win. He doesn’t dominate enough one-on-one to win a series by himself, and he isn’t a great passer who can make others better. Good player, but he isn’t a superstar in my eyes.
     
  •  Is there a more dangerous shooter than Pavel Datsyuk? Imagine if he wasn’t so good defensively, and cheated here and there to create more chances offensively? I know many coaches want guys to be as defensively aware as Datsyuk, but I suspect most fans would prefer to see his offensive magic on display more often. He is an incredible player, but part of me wishes he’d take a few more chances so we could witness his offensive creativity more often. 
     
  • It is early in the series, but so far Henrik Zetterberg has been much better than Jonathan Toews. These types of battles/matchups are great to watch, and I’m curious to see if Toews can reverse the trend. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

 

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Paging Steven Weiss, paging Steven Weiss.

    Could you please report to the Edmonton Oilers hockey club for the next 3 seasons. You’re their new first line center.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Who would you suggest be the bandaid till Hopkins and/or Barkov are amongst the better/top half of the leagues centers?

        Arcobello,Lander? In case you haven’t noticed, we suck at that center ice position Toro. Certainly not chop licker* Sammy Gagner.

        *Opposition centers lick their chops when they look across and see Gagner in their path.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          my pound of cure is already playing for us…Sam Gagner. he looks like he’s started to finally show his talent, and despite Weiss having a few seasons where he’s scored over 20 goals and 60 points, is he really an improvement over Gagner? if he is, how much of one? i’d rather keep Gagner, at least for now. despite most of us wanting a bunch of earth moving trades to upgrade this team, i just can’t see it happening that fast. i for one am willing to be even MORE patient while this team continues on it’s rebuild.

          • DSF

            You really need to look at Gagner’s season more closely before declaring him the “cure”.

            In his first 10 games, Gagner scored 11 points including 3 goals. (1.1PPG)

            In his last 20 games, he scored only 3 goals and 10 points. (0.50 PPG)

            In his last 10 games, he scored 0 goals and 4 assists, all of them second assists. (0.40 PPG.)

            So, once again we’re looking at a player who can put up points in short bursts and then vanishes for an extended period of time.

            It’s likely the time Gagner spent playing in Austria gave him an early boost while the rest of the league got up to speed but, as soon as the rubber hit the road, he folded like a Taiwanese lawn chair.

            That he was also dreadful defensively should give you pause before claiming he is the answer.

          • DSF

            I wouldn’t.

            Too small (5’11” 190) too old (30) and coming off a major injury.

            He wasn’t playing well before injury either (4 points in 17GP).

            He is a UFA so the cost will likely be low but I don’t think he is the answer.

            The Oilers need a big, 2 way centre to compliment Hopkins and Weiss ain’t it.

          • DSF

            Thanks for that. Would you or anyone else know who would be good pick ups in the off season? The only 2 names that caught my attention has been Nathan Horton (minus his injury concerns) and David Clarkson. Are there any big centremen that the Oilers have an honest chance at getting? I’m up for trading everyone but Hall, Yakupov, J. Schultz, and RNH…. I realize they are the only ones with any value to other teams but would an Eberle and a draft pick bring over that big minutes D man we desperately need and if so who would u go for… And don’t say Shea Weber cause as Willis already pointed out Nashville paid big dollars to keep him here after that whole Philly fiasco.

          • DSF

            Holmgren in Philly likes to swing for the fences and is not afraid of making major trades.

            I would try and put together a package for Sean Couturier.

            He’s only 20 and hasn’t really blossomed in Philly but a 6’3″ 200 centre is just what the doctor ordered and I think he would thrive in Edmonton the same way JVR took off in Toronto.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            With second line center minutes here in Oil Country, that could be all the kick start he needs.

            Could we still then sell what’s left for Darnell Nurse?

          • DSF

            No.

            I think to get Philly interested you would have to include the 7th overall pick so Philly could take Nurse.

            They need defensemen in the worst way.

            They’re also in cap hell ($3.2M over the cap) so I would offer up Hemsky (pay half his salary) in return for a contract they want to get rid of.

            Perhaps take a “flyer” on Scott Hartnell who is signed until 2019 @ $4.75M and use a compliance buyout after next season if it’s not working.

            Hartnell is a MacT kind of player and the Oilers could certainly use his size and grit even if it’s just short term.

            For defense, I think I would take a run at Alex Edler. If Vancouver can’t trade Luongo, they may not want to be locked into Edler’s contract which has a NTC kicking in on July 1st.

            With Tanev and Corrado coming on, the Canucks could be convinced to move him.

            I think you would need to make a really good offer though since a lot of teams will be looking for D this summer so maybe next year’s 1st and Marincin.

          • The Flyers do make a lot of sense, the Oilers get an exceptional prospect, they get need and most importantly they get a two way player.

            I’m not sure the Flyers do Hartnell, I haven’t checked cap geek but does he not have a NTC-NMC?

            As much as Holmgren loves a good deal you have to convince Snyder too.

            Regardless, I still think the Oilers get a center and trade Gagner for Weber or Yandel.

            Crazy, but I got a gut feeling.

          • Wax Man Riley

            I’m sorry. I like your Hall to center points. You nail it for sure, but…

            WEBER IS NOT COMING TO EDMONTON.

            No matter how many times you say it does not make it so.

            If 4 1st round picks and the thought of $100MM didn’t do it, Gagner and the 7th won’t be close.

          • YEGFan

            I like the idea for Edler but I think that is over paying. Unfortunately, I also agree that is probably what the price would be to convince the Canucks to move him in division. I maintain Shattenkirk and McDonagh are probably better options.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            i dont know if gagner is the answer but you cant say hes the same player as a year ago. his shot has improved big time, hes faster and you can tell hes got more confidence in his skill now.

            putting up an 11 game point streak isnt a “short burst” its 1/8th of a full season

          • DSF

            Yeah, remember he did the same thing the previous season including his 8 point game and still ended the season with only 47 points.

            In the final 20 games of the 2011/12 season he scored 4 goals and 7 points.

            At that pace, he would have scored 8 goals and 28 points on the season.

            He vanishes big time and I would wait to see him for a full season before declaring him a better player than he was the year before.

            The evidence doesn’t support it.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            and Stephen Weiss is more of a “cure” than Gagner is? not in my book and a lot of players have ups and downs during the season, it’s not unique to only Gagner. and Gagner outscored Eberle, so i guess Eberle folded like a Taiwanese chair too then? he didn’t seem so dreadful to me defensively last year either, so sorry, but i would stick with Gagner over Weiss.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            maybe you should take a breath and give Gagner more time to develop as a player before…er… “spouting off” that he’s not the cure! in no way shape or form do i believe this KID is finished developing yet at 23. i don’t agree with your opinion on this and never will…don’t take it so personal and move on.

          • Eddie Edmonton

            How much time does Gagner need to develop? 8-10 years?

            Gagner holds the record for years spent developing in a professional league. Gagner has reached his peak. There isn’t much to his game. His point production and value is measured in his linemates. Gagner rides the wave but is never in tide, rarely found later in the season when games matter.

          • Citizen David

            I disagree that Gagner is done developing. He won’t stop until 25-26. That’s what everyone does. Doesn’t matter where they do it. He’s not quite in his prime yet. Don’t be surprised if the Oilers trade him, that he will play well and a large group of Oiler fans will groan about letting him go.

          • DSF

            6 years is plenty.

            He still needs to be sheltered and gets his ass kicked by tough competition.

            His Corsi is just dreadful…among the worst in the league.

            Flush.

          • Bushed

            Agree with all your comments on this particular thread.

            Gagner should be at the top of the list for trade talks this summer. I don`t want him, even on a bargain contract. Too soft on the puck, won`t play defence, won`t be a factor in playoff games. Get something back while we still can.

          • Eddie Edmonton

            I’ll agree to disagree. I believe he is done developing, I can’t see much improvement in his game, mentally or physically. I don’t believe everyone stops developing at 25-26. It does matter where they do it, that is why the NHL has the AHL. I will be suprised if the Oilers don’t trade him. I can’t understand the second part of your last sentence.

    • paul wodehouse

      If Oilers are gonna replace Gagner they better “Replace” him, not get another one like him except older and less offensive instincts..no thank you.

      Oilers need a younger, meaner Jason Arnott as their number two center.

  • That shot by Datsyuk was unreal. Without sounding too sappy, watching something like that which seems impossible is exactly why I love sports. Sometimes you see something that just makes you stand up and say “How did he do that?”

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    the Oilers need to find an Andrew Shaw clone? Ryan Hartman perhaps? and Detroit has been underrated the whole playoffs….like the Oilers in 1990, when nobody believed the Oil would have a chance to win another cup without Gretzky, the Wings, even without Nick Lidstrom, have enough cup experience left in them to win it all, especially as good as Jimmy Howard has played!

  • Word to the Bird

    I think our success this year was influenced by Nuge’s production. If he had a second season comparable to Hall’s or even crazier Eb’s, no doubt we would have been in the running for the playoffs until the end.

  • DSF

    Ah yes, heres hoping he comes back better than ever, just like Hall did. If / when he does, I think that is the year our top line becomes one of the more dominant ones in the NHL.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I think if they switch Hall it will be a permanent switch, or at least a long term try out and will probably be a decision independent of RNH’s situation.

      • This is what aggravates and scares me the most, not you personally Romulus, but the thought Hall could just switch to center.

        So it takes a year, maybe two of learning the postion, only then the realization that center is a unique position that not everyone can play.

        How fast can we burn through these players ELC’s and now into there long term contract’s.

        • Rocket

          Yeah no kidding.

          I wish people would stop suggesting Hall play centre. He’s an elite winger, deal with it.

          I mean, does anyone think Ovechkin or Perry should play centre? I hope not.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          who is saying it would be easy?

          The reason we know anything about it is because reporters ask the Oil about it a lot and RK said Taylor didn’t want to switch mid-season and wanted a full training camp at the position… suggesting

          1) the team wants it to happen, or at least try it

          2) the team asked him and he said maybe… on condition

          3) Hall is open to the idea.

          there are lots of precedents for this… notably Hall’s forerunner Messier.

          FWIW I think it makes a lot of sense.

          Hall already kills it as a 2-way machine against top comp… so asking him to take on more responsibility seems like a small stretch.

          The team is weak at C and large at W, switching Hall frees up a lot of problems.

          But yea… it’s not like switching from cheerios to honey-nut cheerios and it may not work…

          still, it is hardly a huge leap of an idea… nor do I think his performance would radically suffer or take a year or two to rebound.

          • DSF

            My main concern with moving Hall to C is the hole it leaves at LW. That leaves MPS, Harti, and Smytty on the chart. That scares me. Im also not convinced moving him there is the best use of his ability, especially when all its doing is filling one hole and leaving another. Its pointless.

          • Just because the Oilers want something to be true doesn’t nessesserly make it so.

            Hall’s exit interview, check it out.

            Hall flat out explains why he doesn’t want to play center, admits to defensive deficiencies in his game and further admits to actually preferring to stay on the wing.

            He talks how difficult it would be to move to center and his own preference to stay on the LW.

            Now, I’m not body language expert, but he didn’t seem convinced or confident he wanted or could do it.

            He also explains that the last time he played center was bantam, and although drafted into the OHL as a center he was moved to the wing very quickly.

            That’s pretty telling evidence to the general media, imagine his answer to the Oilers was a resounding NO.

            Also comparing a HHOF player vs Hall is unfair, not to mention Messier made the switch when hockey was a completely different animal.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Just the fact that Hall isn’t quite ready to accept that center ice roll, has me thinking, is he putting his own needs first, before the teams needs. If everyone on the team isn’t participating in whatever role that needs to be filled, isn’t this the backbone of a functional hockey club?

        If the bottom 6 are expected to fill roles. Why aren’t the top 6 held accountable to the same extent? When Taylor was first asked if he would be willing to move to center, his answer should’ve been, whatever I have to do to help this hockey club win.

        Can we really blame him for that though, with zero veteran leadership on this hockey club? Take away time and space from the Oiler kids, and stick a fork in them, this team is done, if the kids can’t shake loose.

  • Truth

    I hate to be the debby downer here, but wasn’t there a piece up this past off-season wherein Theo Peckham mentioned he was in the “best shape of his life”. Funny how that worked out. I realize this is a completely different situation, RNH is a world class professional athlete and Peckman is not. It is also an injury vs. professional duty and commitment, but it goes to show what is being said and what is actually happening is not always the same. I believe RNH and the Oilers staff will do everything possible to get him ready ASAP as if the next season depends on it, which it does. However, I take the comments from RNH’s agent with a grain of salt.

    I can’t imagine Valette letting the Edmonton fan base know that RNH is progressing behind schedule and is unable to work on his upper body strength until late summer, if that really was the case. Best to say all is going well and when he misses the first month then mention the setbacks. My money is on the over if the line is at 10 of the first games missed. I also don’t believe Valette would have said that RNH should have had the surgery prior to the WJC’s, if that’s how he really felt.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Good news…

    Still think they should have shut him down a few weeks earlier and worry they will rush him back to action.

    Out of curiosity… why are we asking an agent and not a dr? (beyond the obvious of privacy/secrecy issues)… or even the player himself?

  • Rocket

    I don’t get why everybody’s so scared of the idea of tryin Hall at center, it’s not like the Oilers are going any place in the playoffs anytime soon, if they’re gonna keep finishing in the bottom third of the league overall standings for the next few years why not give it a try here and there? It can’t hurt, and oilers can’t get much worse..
    I personally like him on the wing, but don’t see the hurt in putting him in at center now and then, maybe on the powerplay? RNH on one line, Hall and Yakupov on another..Paajarvi and a powerforward on the other wings.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    If that surgery helps his shot hit the net…gitty up.

    I remember the Ray Ferraro interview with RNH last year (his first year) when they were discussing his 99-like passing ability……many of those passes this year hit sticks, skates etc……hope that was the shoulder causing that.

    • Rocket

      That’s an interesting point. Baby Nuge is such a precision passer I wonder if his shoulder movement was affected. It will be interesting how he comes back from rehab.

      Then again, maybe opposing players were just getting used to him & adjusting accordingly.

  • Craig1981

    I actually like Gagner with Hall and Eberle and RNH with Yak and Hemsky. Call whatever line the “1rst” you want
    Gagner has shown he can produce with top tier talent, and though not at the same level compliments them well.

  • horndog77

    Edmonton needs to trade for a #1 center… No brainer! If nuge is not healthy there’s no point in trading Gagner. There has to be a team out there who would like Edmontons first overall + parts. Is there a chance Edmonton could get Tyler seguin from Boston?

  • DSF

    Willis wrote an article about Gagner at the Cult of Hockey today.

    Heres an excerpt:

    “Offensively, despite strong totals overall he didn’t actually do any better at even-strength; his point totals relative to 5-on-5 ice-time actually dipped slightly in 2013 as opposed to his previous two seasons, and his modest increase in 5-on-5 ice-time wasn’t enough to make much difference.

    The difference came on the power play, where his scoring numbers were significantly better than they have been in years prior.

    We looked at this difference earlier in the year, and discovered something interesting: compared to previous seasons, the power play was shooting less with Gagner on the ice yet scoring more, thanks to a very high 5-on-4 shooting percentage.

    That holds true today; a power play that once averaged over 40 shots per hour with Gagner on the ice dipped to just a hair over 34 this season.

    The shooting percentage was over 22 percent with 10 games left to go; by season’s end it had dipped back to the 16 percent range, and Gagner’s 5-on-4 points/60 minutes had fallen from almost 8.0 down to their current levels.

    The power play scoring was a mirage and like all mirages it disappeared;

    Gagner had 12 power play points in 29 games and just three in his final 19 contests. Over a full season, it seems doubtful that Gagner would have significantly outperformed his previous point totals.”

    http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/05/21/sam-gagner-the-more-things-change/

  • Doesn’t make much sense to get rid of anyone on current roster unless its an upgrade . Gagner is a talent and still improving . He makes an excellent winger and can even play center as a bonus . You can make a good case for all our current Oilers and prospects, but you can also make a case for replacing them all for upgrades , as our results are still low .

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    too many comments to respond to individually…

    LW: it is easier to stock this position that it is Centre; Also people have floated the idea of switching Gagner and/or one of Hemsky/Yak playing off-wing

    HHOF: not sure this is much of a response. Messier is an exemplar and an outer marker for Hall’s own career. Besides the idea (switching to C) has little to do with being or not being in the HHOF.

    I happen to think — in the absence of knowing what the team is going to do this off-season — that moving Hall to C is an idea worth exploring. That doesn’t mean it is the best option or will necessarily work to the satisfaction of all parties.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I sure will be happy to pay my ticket tax since the new Arena will likely:

    – Allow me to see the entire Ice surface. (can not from my current seats) with steeper seating
    – Not be mobbed when leaving the Arena
    – Offer better food that Boston Pizza
    – Maybe even speedy service at concessions
    – More washrooms ??

  • YEGFan

    I hate to rain on optimism parades but it makes absolutely zero sense for Philly to trade Couturier.

    The Flyers are tight under the cap, they cannot afford to trade their players on manageable contracts. Sending them a player who is a due any sort of salary makes their problem much much worse. Gagner, Hemsky, Pajaarvi, Horcoff, or even Hall and Eberle make the Flyers’s situation worse. The only way they move Couturier’s lovely little 1.375M cap hit is if it is a massive solution to their blueline. I really don’t see where Edmonton can come in unless it’s Klefbom.

    Philly’s weakness is often identified to be their defense but they are paying 6 players more than 3.5M. They are keeping their forwards and shedding defense contracts this offseason. They have absolutely no good reason to trade players like Read, Schenn, or Couturier.

    MAYBE I could see them move Hartnell or Simmonds, but those are the only two they offerred long term contracts to so far and have demonstrated in every way they want to build around them.

    I’d wager Timmonen, Coburn, Meszaros, and Grossman are all very much available. Briere is probably to only top 9 forward but his cap hit would hurt the Oilers too much. Maybe they have a gem on their 4th line I am not aware of.

  • YEGFan

    The way the Oilers have allocated money so far it’s hard for them to go out and pay for any top 6 forwards. The organization just doesn’t have the flexibility because they are already paying 3rd liners 5M and have an atrocious situation on the blue line.

    Help to the forwards has to come from farm hands stepping up or under the radar trades and signings for under 3M. Regardless of if you feel Weiss is the solution or not, the truth is the Oilers could not afford to pay him market rate (mostly in term). Their situation is bad because of the precedent set by the Hall and Eberle contracts. Nuge, Yakupov, and J Schultz can expect pay increases in the short term or can rightfully feel slighted by the team (even if MacT tries to blame it on Tambo). The Oilers cannot do what Montreal is doing with Subban, what Philly has done with Giroux and Voracek, or what San Jose did with Couture and Pavelski. Without shedding Hemsky or Horcoff first (3rd liners making 5M+) it cannot afford to hire other expensive (players in the 3M range, not 4.5M+) 2nd or 3rd liners.

    The Oilers need to invest term and money in the blueline to improve the team in a manageable way.

      • Wax Man Riley

        That is a trade I do all day. We could package our 1st Phillys 2nd and Gagner to try and get into a top 5 range pick for that centremen we need and we wouldn’t have to necessarily feed him to the wolves with RNH Horcoff and Couturier plus our newly drafted centremen (insert name here potentially Barkov/Monahan) id be pretty happy with that. Still a hole in defence but its a start.

    • YEGFan

      I guess…

      I don’t see this as a huge improvement (my guess is that Couturier never has a season like Eberle had last year but he stays a solid top 9 player) but I understand the argument for it and think there is a case to be made.

      Why does Philly do it though? They are in cap trouble and you suggest they tie up 6M in one player instead of two? They have forwards who can score (Giroux, Voracek, Read), why do they give up a top six player with some grit and a low priced shut down centre to add more?

      I am not saying it couldn’t happen if they are really enamored with Eberle, I just don’t see how this solves any of their problems or convinces them they are becoming a better team. I understand why Philly wouldn’t want to do it but I don’t understand why they would. I didn’t even get into the long term difficulties with adding Eberle’s long term contract when they don’t have one for Giroux or Schenn.

      I think Philly is an ideal trade partner if Edmonton wants to trade prospects for a middle pairing defenseman. They are one of the worst trading partners if we are considering young forwards.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers need to rebuild their medical staff .Getting shoulder surgery at 19 yrs Yikes .Other options non surgically are available. I had a 6cm tear in my labrum had it repaired non surgically 2 years ago. Feels great now. The surgeon gave me a 50 50 chance of it being close to normal. Glad I didn’t do it.