Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) getting some work in. pic.twitter.com/zoxqOFIwsj
— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) March 1, 2016
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is working his way back to NHL action—and we should see him for the (about) final 10 games of the year. Based on today’s events, I would be willing to bet he has a fire lit under his ass.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Galchenyuk biggest snubs from North American kids team. The carrot for them will be to play in spring worlds
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 2, 2016
Across North America today, hockey fans are cursing grey-haired men and their ridiculous decisions. In many cases, the choices must have been damned difficult (Team Sweden’s defense for instance, or Canada’s forwards). I don’t believe choosing RNH for the North America team is a difficult decision. That said, his injury-riddled 2015-16 season has obscured his obvious talent.
Peter Chiarelli: “Ryan is an important part of our team in Edmonton. He’s been hurt.
We’ve got a management group. There’s certain assessments we have of
certain players.” Source
Sean Couturier is a fine young center, brings some offense (more than the Nuge this year) but can play a strong two-way role and that is probably what got him the gig. Nuge has those qualities too—and he can be dynamite on the power play. The management group saw him good, and Couturier got the nod before RNH. Suspect they will both be on the team in September.
So I suppose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins now knows what his GM thinks of him.
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) March 2, 2016
I don’t buy that. Chiarelli is part of a group making the decision, and I assume these men are using the 2015-16 games for evaluation. RNH has missed a lot of those games, and he was clearly not 100 percent before his injury. If we look at his numbers this season and compare them to past campaigns, we can see where he is under-performing:
I believe the Nuge was playing with some kind of malady from around mid-November and that flu kept hanging around. That injury, and his performance, can be seen in the 5×5 offense and possession numbers.
Peter Chiarelli calls leaving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off initial list “tough” decision; believes he’ll be on the team in the end
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 2, 2016
I think Oilers fans are probably wondering about Peter Chiarelli’s assessment of RNH as it pertains to the town team moving forward. We all know Edmonton will be shopping for top drawer defensemen in the summer, and there have been reports for most of the season about availability (the Seth Jones rumors being one example). I don’t think the roster announcement offers much in the way of clues about the future of Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton. At best, we can assume he could be in play depending on the team with that mystery defenseman needs, and we will have to wait until summer for our answer.
The Nuge can write another chapter in the final games of the season and possibly at the World Championships. He has never had a problem with motivation, but as Pierre Lebrun mentioned above, there is certainly something to strive for in September.