BABY NUGE IS ALL GROWN UP!

nuge helmet

There was a time when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—despite his enormous skill—would look awkward or unable. He certainly could not push the river ala Taylor Hall, and many nights looked overwhelmed. Our ‘baby Nuge’ is all grown up folks, and he’s real and spectacular.

The Edmonton Oilers chose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins No. 1 overall in the
summer of 2011. In the three seasons we’ve seen “The Nuge”, it’s very
obvious he’s a special player. His range of skills is terrific, and he’s
a wonder on the power play. We’ve seen enough of him now—even with the
injuries and lockout—to make some claims about Nugent-Hopkins and what
he’ll be as an NHL player.

It’s good, very good. The range of skills is what I find so compelling. He’s outstanding on the power play, is a wizard on the penalty kill and continues to emerge as an EV demon.

Last night, Dallas Eakins went power v power against the Stamkos line, and the Nuge won the possession battle while his line was scoring opportunities. He topped it all off with a late, redemption song goal that sent Oilers fans home happy for the first time since spring.

What a night!

THERE’S MORE TO COME!

  • Darryl Sutter: “The big thing in today’s game
    is you have to be able forecheck and backcheck, and you have to have the
    puck. You can’t give the puck up. We don’t play in our zone, so there’s
    not much defending.  I’ve coached in three decades now and this stuff
    where they said Marian had to play in Jacques’s system is a bunch of
    bull-crap. The game’s changed. They think there’s defending in today’s
    game. Nah, it’s how much you have the puck.
    Teams that play around in their own zone think they’re defending but
    they’re generally getting scored on or taking face-offs and they need a
    goalie to stand on his head if that’s the way they play.”

If you read that quote and then think about RNH’s game, he’s such a valuable player for the Edmonton Oilers rolling out over the rest of this decade and beyond. He can:

  • Play with elite skill, and has posted breathtaking numbers on the PP (when healthy)
  • Play in all three disciplines (EV, PP, PK) with aplomb
  • Complement players with more skill than he possesses, like Taylor Hall
  • Mark his man with authority
  • Aggressively forecheck and backcheck
  • Vulture the puck with his stealth work ala Datsyuk
  • Pass with the best

What can’t he do? Well, shoot the damn puck accurately, battle the big centermen in the western conference successfully (yet!) and win enough faceoffs for it to be considered a strength.

Last night we saw the Nuge grab the game when it was still in the balance, and fire the winning goal all by his lonesome. A tremendous young talent maturing, as Dallas Eakins said postgame an ‘old soul’ who is finding his rightful place among the best two-way centers in the game. 

Baby Nuge is all grown up. Music!

    • I agree. I’m a huge oilers fan and not being a downer here but we cannot expect our current first line to get us into the promised land as it stands.

      Dre will be very good he is not the solution right now. they need a proven 2C NOW if they have any hopes of making it to the playoffs. This will take pressure off the top line and should spread out the talent a little more. Seems like the top line was out there 90% of the game!

      This will result in injuries and the collapse of another season. It’s not too late to turn this season around. Get the 2C by trading one of the kids and lets get going.

  • Spydyr

    If the “Braintrust” trades the Nuge I will lose all hope.

    There were 22 scouts at last nights game.Wayne might want to get ready for some major disappointment.

    • Hemmercules

      With the centre depth on this team I think its safe to say Nuge isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

      Sadly, I will be surprised if Eberle is an Oiler at the end of this season.

    • A friend of mine was apparently sitting next to MacT and Larionov in the Edm Airport yesterday, from when she could overhear they were talking about trades or trade options. Other than Yak does he represent anyone else?

  • The 2011 first overall pick stepped up last night and outplayed the 2008 first overall pick. Arrows pointing in the right direction.

    The team’s 5v5 corgis were singing 60% CLOSE with Nuge on the ice. Bam.

  • Fili

    Nuge is a beast kid has a much better skill set than everyone else on the team IMO. That’s why I’ve said it before by far my favorite player and my star for the season.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    The Oilers played well last night and didn’t get burned on their Dzone errors. They had some luck.

    Nuge looked great all night. He’s the most important player on the team. They could win without Hall.

  • Serious Gord

    RNH is an appreciable talent. And he is improving his game. And in time he may round into HOF form.

    But one game against a team almost as soft as the oil is and getting gifted an opportunity by palak like he was last night is not something to get as gleeful about as Lowetide is.

    The underlying story – the one that predates last game and that continued through it and likely will be the story of how screwed this team is and possibly make for a very miserable season for RNH – is that draisaitl is failing utterly at his role of being 2/3 centre. RNH needs help – some veteran size and presence at that position otherwise it is simply a matter of time before he gets seriously hurt or worn out by the monsters of the pacific.

    • I’m fairly certain if fans can see the problem, the GM who’s spent his entire life working and playing at the highest levels probably has the same concerns. The 2LC he needs is going to require trading a member of the core group. Better to let that group shake the rust off and remind everybody of their true value. For what we need it’s probably going to be Eberle.

        • I have NO idea what the Marincin thing was all about. But it sounds like some sort of lesson was in order. Seems like it worked.

          As far as Schultz goes, you have to believe MacT was polishing the apple on that one.

          • Spydyr

            If getting one point in the first four games and allowing more than five goals in all those games was what they wanted.It worked great.

            Call me silly but I am all for icing the best team possible every game.

      • Serious Gord

        I think we need a relatively short term – 2 yrs max – roster addition. This team isn’t making the playoffs this year so the player doesn’t have to be great – just competent and reliable.

        And I think you can get that player with Perron and a prospect.

        (I have been saying trade Perron all summer – that was when he had max value. Now that he’s playing on the wrong wing his numbers and play have slumped as has his value)

  • Serious Gord

    Just saying he’s a career minus 14, with a career high 56 pts. Not exactly elite numbers like you suggest. Also has never played 1 playoff game. I have as much hope for nuge as the next guy but this type of artixle is a perfect example of the premature adoration that plagues this city and made the organization fall in love with a defenseman that can’t defend.

    How about we see a playoff game before we proclaim the arrival of our “elite” talent?

    • IM80

      Have you not read Lowetide’s articles before? LOL
      This is what you get……the eternal Oilers optimist…..nothing wrong with that…..just not everyone’s cup of tea…..

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        Hopkins is very talented but he is not an elite talent- his defensive play is suspect at best – can’t bury the puck – weak in the corners. Also he tends to disappear against weaker teams and doesn’t exactly put up stellar numbers especially with a world class talent winger (Hall).

        Would love to see him moved at some point for a big center or dman who can play against the beasts of the West.

        In my opinion he doesn’t receive the proper evaluation from the press – I guess that is saved for the defense corps and Nail. He would be a nice #2 on a team like Montreal, NYR. We need a big stud center to lead us to the promise land.

        He does have a great effortless style to his game which I suppose I would enjoy more if the Oilers actually won on a regular basis.

        NYC Oilers fan.

  • I yelled “F**k Yeah Nuge!!!” loud enough after his goal last night to earn the old ‘broomstick tap on the ceiling’ from the neighbors.

    See, the joke when I moved in was that since I cheered for Oilers and Eskimos, they would never have to worry about noise. Thanks to Mike Riley this year and Nuge last night, I have surely been testing their mettle.

  • Livinginthepast

    RNH like datsuk? Are you on glue? Come on beloved oiler fans. One crappy win and now you are naming your hall of famers. Such a joke. Makes me laugh. LOSERS!!!

    Hall is only one worth talking about and he’ll be out of this 2 bit organization as soon as he can.

    I enjoy your banter after 1 win. Halarious!!! LOSERS!!!

  • Prongers Promises

    “Why are they booing?? Didn’t he just score a goal?” – Cougar a row in front of me.

    Take your 6″ heels off lady, that don’t impress me much.

  • This is a big stretch. You guys win one game and not only back away from the cliff’s edge but are now in la la land. Your “grown up” just returned from an ouchy he got in his first NHL fight. He remains a talented but undersized work in progress who will struggle to live up to his high draft status for the rest of his career.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Let me guess. Flames fan? Kenta Nilson and all? You may be right about Nuge being undersized and struggling to live up to 1st overall draft status. But of course you know all about pinning your hopes to undersized work-in-progress types, gadreau and baertschi, but in their cases they will struggle to live up to low draft status. Seems like your situation may be even more pathetic than ours.

  • sesame_oil

    Wow, one game and one goal and we start rolling out the red carpet, I’ll take it I guess, better than the alternative.

    And while we’re passing out props, Eberle redeemed himself last night as well. I’m still puzzled why most everyone was tossing him under the bus and calling for his departure, the guy is GOOD.

    If I could save time in a bottle / The first thing that I’d like to do / Is to save every day

  • The Future Never Comes

    See Eakin’s what a little continuity having these D pairs together and in working order for a couple games can do to chemistry. You have the D who should be on the team playing with who they should be playing with, and wam goals down. Don’t try to reinvent the game, it doesn’t work. Maybe results could have been a little different for the first two games if we had these pairs together for the end of pre season, hey? Again, it would be nice to see Klef in for Ference. Trade Eberle before Leon’s 9 game mark for a 2/3C center. Elevate Yak to the first line and bring in Pitlick.

  • Zarny

    Every Oiler fan should be excited about Nuge this year. Nuge is not at Datsyuk’s level but his game is very Datsyuk like. His skating is so strong he can excel and apply pressure at ES, PK and the PP.

    There are another 76 games to see whether Nuge is a 60-65 PT guy or 80+ and if he can maintain that effort over a full season and against behemoths like Getzlaf and Kopitar. So far he’s looked extremely good.

  • ubermiguel

    And I was thinking Nuge’s wristshot is an under-rated aspect of his game. The velocity could be a bit faster but I think he places it well. His second year he had a lousy shooting % but the other years it’s been respectable.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    They need to get Nuge to reenact the Wyatt Earp speech from Tombstone and play it on the big screen before every power play.

    “You tell ’em I’m coming and Hall’s coming with me!”

  • CMG30

    Hall, Nuge and Eberle are a legit top line in the NHL. I won’t claim that they’re the best top line out there, but I’d wager there’s at least 15 other teams out there that would swap lines with the Oilers in a heartbeat. The Oilers have a lot of questions but the top line is one of the few solids in my mind.

    Nuge seems to have a lot of detractors for various reasons but what lots of people seem to forget is that he’s been playing against the top lines since he was 19 and injured and backed up by the worst defense in the league and he was still holding his own. That’s no easy feat. How many other top centers can say the same about when they first broke into the league? We know he’s good now the only question is how much better will he get when he hits the heart of his career?

    Perhaps the truest test of what you think a player is worth is who you would trade him for. Straight up comparison, he’s not an elite center yet, but when I compare him to where elite centers were at his age, I think a trade right now for anything outside an absolute top center such as a Crosby, Malkin or maybe a Datsuyk in his prime would be a very risky move.