Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is an impressive power-play performer and a developing two-way talent, but to listen to some people he’s not much at all. If it’s possible to consider a former No. 1 overall selection underrated, the Nuge is it. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey—and when he arrives as a complete talent there’s going to be a lot of crow served on a big damn platter.
I mean, really. Haven’t we all had moments when things have gone badly, and it takes a minute to gather ourselves and figure out the problem? Wildly unfair GIF!
He’s not exactly beefy. Nuge can be shoved off the puck, and it sometimes looks funny (although I was mad as hell when this happened and the ensuing play). Baby Nuge is NOT a big man, and despite terrific edges and great anticipation, he’s certainly not a player who is going to physically intimidate (as an example) Ryan Getzlaf.
HE’S ALREADY GREAT AT…..
The power play. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a witch (TM: Tyler Dellow) with the man advantage, and has posted impressive numbers in his three Edmonton seasons:
- 5×4/60 2011-12: 7.30 (No. 1 on the Oilers)
- 5×4/60 2012-13: 4.91 (No. 5 on the Oilers)
- 5×4/60 2013-14: 4.85 (No. 1 on the Oilers)
He’s also been close to even 5×5 Corsi for % on the top line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle since his arrival fall 2011:
- 5×5 with Eberle: 1910 minutes, 49.3% Corsi for 5×5; 22-33-55 boxcars.
- 5×5 with Hall: 1454 minutes, 49.7% Corsi for 5×5; 14-23-37 boxcars.
EAKINS LOVES HIM
It’s always a good idea to listen to a coach when evaluating a player.
Dallas Eakins: “He’s a smart kid. He reads the game well. As much offence as I think he can provide, I
think he’s got a lot of Boyd Gordon in him, too. He’s always underneath
the puck. He understands, at his age, how the game needs to be played.
And usually that takes a while to gather in your brain. He’s getting to
it quite early in his career. He’s done everything we asked of him.”
HE’LL LOVE RAMSAY
Craig Ramsay will love the Nuge, and vice versa. Ramsay will see many of the things in Nuge’s game that the old Sabre brought to his own decades ago: great anticipation, a complete game, defensive awareness, the ability to be a demon on the forecheck and to do ‘the little things’ that are so important. Have you ever seen Pavel Datsyuk turn a game around with a deft theft on the back check? Nuge does that too, and Ramsay before him.
LAUGH IT UP….
So, for those who question the Nuge, his game, his ability get a stick out of his cage (it’s probably pretty damn difficult) and anything else, party on. One day soon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going to shock you just like that cat-in-the-bag shocked the kitty kat on the bed above. Nuge will come to your town, play a complete game, and his team will leave with two points.
And your respect.