Nugent-Hopkins discusses World Cup, a disappointing season and improving his faceoffs

Nugepac

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was added to Team North America last Friday, and you can expect him to face many tough matchups in the tournament. His 313 NHL games are second most on the team (Sean Couturier has played 350), and RNH is looking forward to the opportunity to battle the best-of-the-best this September.

I caught up with the 2011 first overall pick to discuss the World Cup of Hockey, his frustrating season and his thoughts on what his NHL team needs to do to become competitive next season.

Jason Gregor: Have you ever made a team
that you technically didn’t go to camp and try out for?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Um… [laughs] I don’t think so, this was a first. It’s a different setup.

Gregor: Who called you when you made the
team?

Nugent-Hopkins: Peter did. It was good to
get a call from him and it’s obviously nice having a familiar face with the GM
and coaching staff.

Gregor: Were you waiting for the phone
call? What were you thinking heading into the final few days before they
announced it on Friday?

Nugent-Hopkins: Maybe a little bit nervous
or something like that. I mean I knew when the announcement was going to get
made, so like everybody else I was just waiting to see what happened. I was
pretty pumped to get the call.

Gregor: The camp starts a little earlier
than NHL camps, so is it much of a change as far as your off-season routine, and
when you’ll want to peak with your training?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think it will change a
little bit for the timing and stuff. I mean sometimes it’s tough to get games,
or game-like situations in summer, so you come into camp in the best shape that
you can and then you play some inter squad games, and then you start to get
your timing down. I assume it’s kind of going to be the same situation with the
World Cup, but I still think that I’m going to try to get some more game-like
situations in before, and get the timing down before I head in. So I think that
side of things is going to be a little different as far as the training, I
think it will stay the same.

Gregor: You’ve played in World Juniors, so in a short tournament like this, is winning less about the system
and more on the pure ability of players?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think a little bit of
both. I think that the quicker you can mesh as a group, the better chances you
have too. I mean, like you said, it’s a bunch of guys who, some guys play
together, but this whole team has never played together before. So you have to
find a way to mesh right away and I think our team is a pretty talented group,
obviously younger guys, but there’s no shortage of talent, so it will be fun to
be a part of. Hopefully we can surprise some people out there.

Gregor: When this format was announced last
September, pretty much everybody had Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a lock on the team
and there were a lot of people surprised when you didn’t make the original
sixteen man roster. How disappointed were you at that time and how did the
conversation with Peter go?

Nugent-Hopkins: Well, it’s tough not to be
disappointed when you don’t make a team that you’re hoping to get on. I knew
that with the injury and what not, it changed things a little bit. Maybe it
didn’t, but I just wanted to get back as soon and as healthy as I could and
start playing some games and feeling good about my game. I wasn’t playing to
make the team, but at the same time it’s kind of in the back of your mind a
little bit, so I was happy to get some games at the end of the season.

OILERS

Gregor: For Oilers fans it was eerily similar how you came in as an eighteen year old rookie, had a lot of
success, fifty two points, but unfortunately got injured. Connor McDavid came
in, had a successful season, unfortunately he got injured in between and then
came back, what kind of advice did you give him about dealing with an injury as
an NHL rookie?

Nugent-Hopkins: Yeah, I mean from
experience, like you said, I know it’s tough. You’re so excited to get into
your first season and everything kind of happens leading up to the draft and
then you get in and unfortunately it happened pretty quickly for him. It’s
tough not to get frustrated, but I know a lot of us tried to help him through
it as much as we could. Obviously he’s got a good head on his shoulders so I
don’t think that he got too down about it, but the best thing that you can do
at that time is rest your body and not get too frustrated about it or it just
makes it tougher.

Gregor: I’m guessing this past year was the
most frustrating for you because the team was hoping to take a step, but didn’t.
You were injured, Connor, [Oscar] Klefbom and [Jordan] Eberle were hurt at different times and the full roster never played one game together. Some guys, because of the injuries or
struggles didn’t have the years that they wanted. Was this a more mentally
taxing season on you than the previous ones?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think so. I think when
you have a long injury like I did, it makes it tough no matter what. But like
you said, we had kind of high hopes coming into the season and things didn’t go
our way. I do think that we played better a lot of times than I’ve seen our
group play in my five years there, so there definitely were those positives,
but at the same time, it’s a lot about consistency and finding a way to play
that game night in and night out. There were a lot of one goal games that could
have gone our way but didn’t.

I think as we get older as a group, get
some more experience, those games will start turning for us, but I mean when
things don’t go well as a team, and individually it wasn‘t going great for me
either, and then I got hurt. It was a tough year in a lot of ways, but you try
to just take the positives out and learn from everything that happened.

Gregor: When you talk experience as a
group, because it’s still a relatively young group, especially the guys who
play a significant amount of minutes, and you’re one of those guys, finding
that consistency looks to be the biggest challenge for your collective group. Do
the players who play the most minutes have to find that consistency next year
and how do you find it?

Nugent-Hopkins: Definitely, I think if I
could name one thing it’s just about consistency for us and I think that we
probably got a little bit better at that, but it still wasn’t where it needed
to be this year obviously. Sometimes we look like such a good team, and we play
with the best teams in the league and other times we kind of have a little,
even its it’s just five to ten minutes, lull in our game. It makes a
difference. You can see in the playoffs right now, every team plays hard and
plays the hard way throughout the sixty minutes, so we have to find a way to be
that consistent and I’m definitely going to put a lot of pressure on myself to
play that way every night.

IMPROVING HIS GAME

Gregor:  What needs to happen next year for you to have
the best season for you and ultimately help the team become competitive?

Nugent-Hopkins: I have to find a way to
consistently be that two-way centerman that I know I can be. But I have to find
a way to produce offensively at the same time, and be relied upon to go out
there in tough situations and win faceoffs. I believe for a centreman it does start
in the faceoff circle. As the years have gone on I’ve gotten a little bit
better, but I’m still not where I want to be. I think a lot of confidence with
the way that you play with your game starts there (faceoffs) so I’m going to keep
working on them. I think when it starts to click for all of the young guys who
have been around for a long time it’s going to change for the whole group.

Gregor: How do you plan on improving in
faceoffs?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think the best way is
just practice over and over again. I mean the best way to improve is by playing
games and being in an actual game situation, but in the summer I’m going to
work on it for sure. I skate a couple of times a week, so there is plenty of
opportunity so it’s something that I’m really going to take pride on this
summer. I need to be quicker and also strategize a bit more.

Gregor: How much stronger do you think you
are on the ice now compared to when you broke in as a rookie, and how much can that
benefit you in the way you play?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think I definitely noticed
a difference over the past year or two. I’ve gotten a bit heavier, but I
definitely think that my strength on the ice has gone up a bit over the past
few years. And like you said, it just comes with time and it just kind of gives
you a little bit more confidence to go out there and to play against those big
bodies. I’m not going to be as big as a lot of guys around the league, but I
can still stand in there with them and win battles in corners and try to be
shifty out there. Added strength definitely gives you some more confidence to
go into those corners and to come out with the puck.

Gregor: You’re not going to be playing Canada in the round robin at the World Cup but if you make the playoffs, there’s a
good chance you will play Canada. Have you thought about that, is it weird?

Nugent-Hopkins: Yeah, I’ve thought about it
a bit. It definitely will be strange. I mean when you play in an international
competition, you’re representing your home country and for me obviously growing
up in Canada I’ve been a huge fan of every tournament they’ve ever been in so it
would be a little bit different but you have to find a way to put that aside
and try to just take them as another team that is trying to beat you.

Gregor: Who are you picking in the Stanley
Cup Finals?

Nugent-Hopkins: I think for my buddy [Justin
Schultz] Schultzy I’m going to be rooting for Pittsburgh.

WRAP UP

WrapItUp

It was interesting hearing him discuss how improving his faceoffs will better his overall game. Of course, they would have more possession, but more importantly I think it would give him a more positive frame of mind. It is difficult for any player to have success when they start the shift feeling negative.

He mentioned you need games to improve faceoffs, and that is true in one sense, since Adam Oates believes it comes down to practice, practice, practice, but Oates mentioned thinking faceoffs is highly underrated.

“Much of it is mental. You have to out think your opponent. Know what he his plan and out smart him. You need strength some times, and great hand-eye in others, but thinking faceoffs is an art that many don’t master,” Oates said.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • fran huckzky

    I know the Oil have to dive something to improve their D but I really hope Nuge isn’t used as trade bait. His style of play reminds me of a young Pavel and if we let him ggo we will regret it for the next 20 years. Use free agency and the draft pick to improve the defense.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Its to bad Lander didn’t continue his success from the last half season under Neilson to last year, I’d feel more comfortable trading Nuge for a top 2 dman.

    Having 97,19, and 93 down the middle is a must, imo.

    • Moe Sizzlack

      Trade Nuge for top 2 D??

      Having 97, 19 and 93 down the middle is a must ?

      Nuge is 93 (who u want to trade) . And Maroon is 19 and a Winger ..

      What da funk ?

      • a lg dubl dubl

        I didn’t even think to check, lol! I meant 29.

        I also should have said: Since Nuge has the most value to obtain a top 2 dman. I don’t want to see him get traded, and would rather see Eberle get traded to obtain said dman.

        Note to self: proof read.

  • Sorensenator

    I look like I have severe issues when I try to imitate the west-side Tupac gesture as shown in the first page of this article, I can’t cross the my two middle fingers without manual help from the other hand.

    Aside from that, go Nuge.

  • Lyxdeslic

    In my eyes, if we keep Nuge, he will have a HUGE impact on how our team does next year. We all know Connor will be a dominant offensive producer and will carry whoever his line mates are. Hall can be the driver on his line and will help his line produce.

    The way I see it, we have 2 options for Nuge: 1) Put him on a line with Hall and Draisaitl/someone else and let them provide ample “secondary” scoring behind the Mcdcvid line, or 2) Give Nuge his own line, let him be the driver of the line, and roll three scoring lines. In my opinion i’d prefer option 2, but we need Nuge to have a big year to be able to do that.

  • Hockey Buddha

    This is the first World/Canada Cup–in about 40 years, I think–that I won’t be cheering for Team Canada. It feels strange, but with Taylor Hall being left off the Canadian squad, I have no player ties to Team Canada at the event, and I won’t have to split my allegiance.

    Without reservation, I’ll be cheering for McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins and Team North America. Hall should have made Team Canada, and Nuge certainly deserves this honour. Fantastic young hockey players, Nuge and Hall–not to mention McDavid.

    If the Oilers can repair some of the holes on right defense without subtracting too much, I think we’ll see a team in the race to make the playoffs.

    • Kurt

      This is exactly why this tournament is nothing more than televised preseason for the stars of the league.

      Who does the league/pa expect north americans to cheer for if Team NA matches against Canada or the US.

      Silly

      • Seanaconda

        I’ll cheer for both ! Well if it’s against canada and hope for an intense and entertaining game without really caring who wins. Maybe choose one if a friend wants to bet but I’m just more interested in good hockey. Basically the same as the cup finals for me this year I would be happy if either team won.

      • madjam

        Love the unique format that allows hockey fans to view the best in the game , plus a bonus added of a couple of loaded young star teams . If you do not want to watch the best in this tourney simply do not watch it if you object to the format – your loss . I’d like to see them expand in future years if youth teams flounder, to have 2 representative teams from Canada , etc.. Canada A and Canada B . It’s a showcase of worlds best hockey players and that’s exciting for most hockey fans with all the stars involved .

        • McRaj

          I just read your replies to me regarding the Belanger comments. Madjam, do you think the core deserves any blame at all for the failures of the Oilers since they have been in the league? Secondly, among players at their positions, where do you think Hall, Eberle, and Nuge rank?

          • gongshow

            Having spoken with some players who were/are on the team for the last few years, it sounds like at least part of the blame lies in at least part of the core.

            Add Tambo and MacT’s horrific asset management to that and you have the recipe for a decade out of the playoffs.

            I really did not enjoy Eakins’ coaching tenure, and he certainly didn’t help the cause, but his stink is long washed off the team. Prior management’s poor work handcuffed the team for several years and continues to have a lingering affect the on-ice product.

          • madjam

            Can only postulate whether youth is a problem , as coaches often give them more leeway while developing them into league , and thus more freedom than you’d expect a wily veteran to have . Not all are treated in same way . What motivates each player can be difficult for any coaches , as some do respond differently to others . If they are a major problem then why have the coaches and GM not traded them away ? All 3 of the players you mention rank high in talent , but all the invariables not quite as high as yet but basically still improving . Like present article with Hopkins – when will he take that next step and say we do this and now we are competitive rather than postulate what might happen (confidence ) .

          • McRaj

            That didn’t really answer the question I asked. So I will try again? Do you think that the core deserves at least some blame or do you think that they should not be blamed at all?

            Secondly, among their positions, where do you see each of the players (Hall, Nuge, Ebs) ranking today among their positions? For example I think Hall is the third best LW behind Ovi and Benn. Where do you think they rank among LW, RW, and C?

          • madjam

            Do not know , like almost all, if they were part of the problem even from Belanger’s tirade . So no I would not blame them , just like I would not blame Nurse or Draisaitl for our problems this year . Look , I do not know if the youth formed a clique that was adverse to other players or coaches or how they intertwined . That’s for internal workings of management and coaches , of which we all have little knowledge of to make a sound judgement either way to begin with . The GM is responsible for Quality Control and if he fails to do so then entire team suffers . Belanger’s comments basically referred most to that issue and probably anything that they allowed in way of youth he felt might have been handled differently at that time . New Pants summation close , but i’d put Nuge and Eberle a bit higher even as first line players . Let’s face it , I doubt Nuge is worst first line centerman or even bottom 1/6 th in the league of 30 teams , and Ebs higher than just bottom 1/3 of league . Hopefully that explains my position for you better.

          • McRaj

            I appreciate the explanation but I disagree a bit. We cannot just excuse the core and not let them shelter any blame. Drai and Nurse have not been here long enough for us to give them much blame. The other 3 however have. They probably do not deserve all of the blame but they definitely do deserve some blame for the team’s woes.

            I agree that Nuge is not the worst first line centerman (I would take him over Turris or Kadri) but just because a player plays first line Center does not make him a first line centerman. I can probably list 25 centers who are better than Nuge. Just from quickly browsing NHL: Con, Sid, Geno, Seguin, Thornton, Pavelski, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Kopi, JT, Barkov, Krejci, Giroux, Berg, Spezza, Stamkos, Getzlaf, Johansen, Toews, MacKinnon, Eichel, Couture, Monahan, Carter, Scheifele, Larkin, Johnson are all better. That’s 27 better players. So if we can trade Nuge who is at best the 25th best center in the league for a Top 20 D-Man, would that not make us a better team?

            As for Ebs, I would say he is a top 15 right winger in the league. Guy’s like Kane, Wheeler, Tarasenko, Kucherov, Okposo, Eriksson, Perry, Simmonds, Kessel, Neal, Voracek are the only ones who I’d say are better.

          • McRaj

            I can agree that Monahan is better than Nuge and even agree that Johnny is better than Ebs. But in no way is Johnny better than Hall.

            Now for your name calling, why don’t you troll your A** off this site little punk.

          • Hockeyfan

            UHH, no tough guy. How is Hall better? Nice try, take at look last 2 years, in almost every aspect JG is way better than Halfway.
            Don’t be so mad cause the Oil suck. It’s not your fault.

          • @Hallsy4

            The Flames suck too and they don’t have McDavid. I don’t even think a Flames fan can claim that any of their players is anywhere near as good as McDavid. What is it with Flames fans? Trolling an Oiler site, and I have had to delete some off Facebook for their endless posts about how good the Flames are, how cool they are etc etc etc. Some (not all), but seems like a lot have a serious inferiority complex or something. This is a serious observation/question. What’s with the “tough guy”/”It’s not your fault” type language? Serious question, I know a lot of twerps who talk in the exact same way. Smarten Up.

          • Hockeyfan

            I responded to an internet bully calling me a punk because i had made observations that Oil fans don’t see. jg is better than ANY player on the Oil right now and until your star welfare pick, (McDavid if you’re wondering which one) can prove otherwise. The Flames have been better than the Oil for 10 years now and will continue being so for the next 5 at least.

          • McRaj

            LOL if you have ever followed my posts, you would know that I am far from a bully or internet bully. As for Hall and Johnny, let’s compare:

            Hall: 135 games, 103 points (0.76 ppg), +4.4/+4.9 corsi relative last 2 years, +1.1/+5.4 fenwick relative last 2 years, 149 hits, 87 blocks, -30 takeaway/giveaway, 100 PDO, and less sheltered then Johnny. Home Points = 63, Road = 40. Even strength = 85 points (83% of production).

            Gaudreau: 159 games, 142 points (0.89 ppg), +3.7/+1.5 corsi relative last 2 years, +2.9/+0.5 fenwick relative last 2 years, 40 hits, 37 blocks, -60 takeaway/giveaway, 101 PDO, and sheltered very well under Hartley. Home Points = 90, Road =52. Even strength = 100 points (70% of production).

            So Hall is the better all around and overall player which is proven by superior numbers in every category except points which Hall has been outscored by Johnny for with the last 2 seasons being bad seasons for Hall. Johnny relies on the PP for his scoring while Hall does his at even strength.

            As for saying that Johnny is better than Connor. I won’t even go there because I doubt even you believe that.

          • pkam

            I am a big fan of Nuge, but I don’t think he will get us a top 20 D. I will do that trade in a heartbeat but I don’t think there is a GM so dumb since Bob Gainey. The only Oilers who can get us a top 20D are McDavid and Hall. I will take a top 60 D for Nuge any day.

            Drisaitl may be a 2nd centre in a year or 2 but I don’t think he is ready for the job now. So I will keep Nuge for at least another year perhaps 2, unless a top 60 D is coming back. We don’t need the cap this year and probably not until McDavid’s ELC expires so there is no reason to rush Nuge out. And if Drisaitl doesn’t work out in 2 years, we don’t have to look for another top 2 centre.

  • gongshow

    Yes, the World Cup feels gimmicky, but any time I can watch the best play against the best (in a non-all star game format where the players give a crap), I will watch it.

    I’m not sure who I will be cheering for right now, other than hoping our Oilers reps each have a good tourney.

  • gongshow

    Also, Nuge absolutely deserves to be there and should be one of the leaders on that team. Hopefully his offseason face-off work helps out too. I find it hard to believe that a guy who is a takeaway ninja doesn’t have the hand-eye to win faceoffs. It will improve.

  • @Hallsy4

    Lest we forget the only team we finished ahead of last year was trying to lose. TRADE THE MALL! Ebs seems like the one who should go, but then we don’t have a #1 or #2 RW, barring Okposo who I don’t see signing here. We may have to brace for losing the Nuge. I don’t think we can go into next year with the same group and expect to be good all of a sudden. Kinda think Yak, Pou, Ebs, and nuge will all be dismissed, and I think said moves will bring back pieces that improve this team.

  • @Hallsy4

    We’ve had this discussion before on here…. Is Nuge really that great defensively or is he just considered a Defensive specialist because he doesn’t put up spectacular offensive numbers? Serious question, not trying to offend the Nuge guys. I too, am a Nuge fan, but I’d be happy with him dismissed to improve the club.

    • NewPants

      Your on to something.

      Nuge isn’t a defensive specialist. He is just the only center playing top minutes before the oil drafted the younger McDavid. Nuge has been playing the role but he is more offensive by style.
      This next year we will see McDavid playing big line minutes and will let Nuge put up more points. Nuge has always been a quite point producer. At the end of the game is when you notice him on the score sheet.

      Go Nuge! Go OIL!!!!

  • NewPants

    Nuge= Top 25-30

    Ebs= Top 20

    Hall= Top 5

    It’s easy to pick out the best players on a team and then say they should be better but the way to make a group of players or any group better is to pick out the worst.

    Keep all the best and get the worst out of the group to make the group better.

    Keep it simple……

    Go Nuge! Go OIL!!!!

  • Hockeyfan

    Nugget will be the 3rd or 4th line center. Lucky Chia is the GM as he would not be there otherwise. Money and JG will lead this team. Nugget not required, always been overrated and always will be until he is traded. The post about him being a defensive force is hiding the fact he can’t score was spot on.

  • madjam

    I do not have a problem trading anyone of core if you can adequately replace them with same or better , but that’s not the case here . We cannot replace them adequately without negative repercussions . Trading them for a defenseman just pushes the overall problem around , and cost to refill the hole left adequately is probably more than they are worth now to us . Now , the same way you might say we can replace any one them , is the same way you should be looking at to add a top 2-4 Right Defenseman .

    • McRaj

      Penguins have Sid on one line, Geno on another, and Kessel on a third. Fan’s need to understand that we do not need 5 or 6 elite skill players on our team. WE WOULD NOT SUFFER IF WE TRADED EBS OR NUGE TO GET A TOP PAIRING D. We Would improve.

      • madjam

        You really think so ? Did Calgary get any better with Hamilton this year , and the closest they got to anyone leaving was Hudler . Does not sound like we are after anyone better than another Hamilton – a top 4 . Pitt. has super stars where we just have stars , and most can see that separation . Do we have an elite player like Letang on defence – no, but we also do not have the top caliber players like Sid , Geno , or arguably Kessel either . Some fans figure our 6M dollar stars should be as good as super stars like the Crosby’s and Malkins of the league that make bigger bucks . We have one to two elite in possibly Hall and McDavid by my standards . We have highly skilled star players in Ebs and Ryan .

        • Zarny

          Calgary’s problem was Hiller/Ramo/Ortio were atrocious compared to the year before. Dallas missed the playoffs 2 years ago because their goaltending was terrible. Virtually no team is successful when their goaltending craters regardless of who plays F and D.

          No, Edm doesn’t have an elite player like Letang on D. That’s the biggest problem with the Oilers; not that Hall, Ebs or RNH aren’t as good as Crosby or Malkin.

          The Oilers would be considerably better if they traded Ebs or Nuge for a top pairing D. How is that even up for debate? It would not be pushing the problem around since Edm would still have plenty of star forwards plus an actual elite D eating up the 20-25 minutes Schultz was gifted every night.

          • McRaj

            Completely agree with you. I would also say that Connor is of the Crosby/Malkin fold. You see Connor can run one line, while Hall can run another. Add in top-end players like Drai and great complimentary pieces in Pouliot and you have the base set for a top 6. One of Nuge/Eberle, Maroon, maybe Yak, some free agents can fill in the top 6. With the remaining including Kassian, another free agent, etc filling out the third line.

            A top Pairing D would change this team immensely. Also, Calgary regressed as the season before was all due to luck and unsustainable. The player’s we are thinking of adding like Faulk is a better player than Dougie. A top Pairing D would make a big difference to this team even at the expense of a Hopkins or Eberle. If such a deal is to be made and then results are seen, I wonder if the supporter’s of the core will still say that the Top Pairing D did not make a difference.

          • madjam

            The debate is replacing the points your giving up on offense . Karlsson , Subban , Calgary’s defence , etc., all clubs with great defence still not making playoffs . You honestly think one of them could carry our offense minus their points(Ebs and Nuge) to playoffs alone – keep dreaming . We would not be considerably better and doubtful even marginally considering our offense is not that good just yet , as it needs to be added to as well . What is it with you people that can’t see we are far better off using other means and players , draft picks , Ufa routes ,etc. to add to club and still maintain a solid core .Of course it’s up for debate , try expanding your views .

            A similiar trade was made this year of which we were also in on I believe . Seth Jones for R.Johansson . Jones did not make a significant difference and maybe overall less of a difference for their club . Would have been the same here . Losing Jones had little bearing on how Nashville done .

          • McRaj

            What you are failing to understand is that when there is a D man that is able to carry the puck up ice to get to our forwards and to quarterback a PP, it will significantly improve their offensive production. We keep throwing out examples of teams that only have a few skilled players that do very well. You always seem to resort to the same thing, worried about replacing production. This is not money ball. You are in the minority of those who believe that a top pairing D would not make a significant difference. What has the status quo gotten us anyway?

          • Zarny

            Yes, the Oilers would have to replace Ebs or Nuge if they were traded. And it’s possible the replacement wouldn’t be quite as good. That’s fine.

            It isn’t about “carrying the offense to the playoffs”. It’s about wins. That’s what gets you to the playoffs. Ott and Cgy were 7th and 11th in league offense; primarily because of their D. No playoffs, but better than Edm.

            There is also the fact that the Oilers entire D core had fewer points than Karlsson. That undoubtedly hurts the offense production of the F. Some of the offense lost, if Nuge or Ebs is traded, would be made up by having D who can move the puck up the ice. The bigger factor, however, is allowing fewer goals. That is Edm primary problem.

            No, I don’t think a Karlsson, Subban (I don’t think either are actually available), Shattenkirk etc. carry Edm to the playoffs. That’s the sad thing with the Oilers. They could improve substantially and still not make the playoffs lol.

            Of course losing Jones had little bearing on Nsh. He was playing on their 3rd pair lol. They still had Josi, Weber, Ellis and Ekholm. All 4 are better than any D in Edm. Very similar to the Oilers who would still have McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl and Nuge or Ebs if they traded 1 F.

            In terms of impact, CBJ was 15-23-3 with Johansen and 19-17-5 with Jones. No impact lol? Now, Nsh improved from 19-14-7 with Jones to 22-13-7 with Johansen. The trade worked for both because they each addressed their needs. CBJ improved their D and Nsh balanced their roster.

            To be clear, I’m not suggesting trading Nuge or Ebs should be plan A. My plan A would be to trade the 4th overall but it depends entirely on what other GMs value. Many of the teams with D Edm might be interested in want to win now. Players like Ebs or Nuge may hold more value than a draft pick who won’t contribute for 2-4 years.

            I do not like the UFA route. Demers simply isn’t that good. I think the Oilers would be better with him as he is a legit 2nd pairing D; but you will have to overpay and in 2 years it will be an ugly contract the Oilers want to get rid of.

            What I was implying is that it isn’t up for debate as to whether the Oilers would be a better team if you swapped Ebs or Nuge for a top pairing D. They would. It’s not the only path to improvement, and Chiarelli should certainly explore all options, but it’s definitely a path that gets them where they need to go.

            And the Oilers still have a solid core if they trade 1 F. In fact, if you swap any F not named McDavid for an equivalent top pairing D I’d argue the core is even stronger. More importantly, they’ll win more games.

          • Ed in Edmonton 1

            “The trade worked for both because they each addressed their needs. CBJ improved their D and Nsh balanced their roster.”

            Correct and that speaks to the trap that many people fall into about who won a trade. In this case both teams improved, you could say both teams won. But a trade is not a win/lose thing, the only metric is if the trade achieved the objective (which in most cases is to improve your team. In the case of a forced trade for salary cap or a player demand situation its damage control).

          • pkam

            “No, Edm doesn’t have an elite player like Letang on D. That’s the biggest problem with the Oilers; not that Hall, Ebs or RNH aren’t as good as Crosby or Malkin. “

            How is our forwards group as good as the Pens even without trading away RNH or Eberle.

            The Pens have Crosby, Malkin and Bonino down the middle, Kessel, Hornqvist and Kunitz on the wings. We have McDavid, RNH and Drisaitl down the middle. Hall, Eberle and Pouliot on the wings. Our wings are slightly better but the centres are not as good as the Pens. Overall, I still think the Pens are slightly better than us as it stands.

            If we trade away RNH, our centres will be miles behind the Pens. If we trade away Eberle, both our wings and centres will be worse than the Pens. So not sure how you come up with that conclusion.

          • McRaj

            McDavid is Crosby territory. Drai is not as good as Malkin. Hall is better than or at the very least as good as Kessel, Eberle is better than Hornqvist and Pouliot better than Kunitz. Nuge way way better than Bonino.

            The Pens have 3 players on 3 lines that drive the offense, all others are complimentary pieces. The Oilers have McDavid and Hall to drive 2 lines, While one of Drai or Nuge could drive a third. Maroon, Pouliot, even Yak are good to great complimentary pieces.

          • pkam

            I agree McDavid = Crosby and Hall = Kessel.

            So we leave with RNH, Drisaitl, Eberle, and Pouliot. And the Pens leave with Malkin, Bonino, Hornqvist and Kunitz.

            Other than McDavid, we have nobody as good as Malkin, not even Hall. Even RNH + Eberle will not match Malkin.

            So you think Drisaitl + Pouliot will be better than Bonino + Hornqvist + Kunitz?

            If we subtract RNH or Eberle, the remaining 3 Oilers combined will not even be good enough for Malkin, not to mention the other 3 Pens.

          • Zarny

            First, I did not say that the Oilers’ F group is as good as the Pens.

            I said the Oilers biggest problem is that they don’t have an elite player like Letang on D. And it is. The Oilers didn’t finish 29th because McDavid, Hall, Nuge etc. aren’t quite as good as Crosby, Malkin etc. They finished 29th because they only have 2 top 4 D. That is exactly half as many top 4 D that a team needs. And none of those D are as skilled as any of the Oilers star forwards. That is the biggest problem.

            And that is beside the fact that overall the Oilers forward group is probably as good as Pit. No, the Oilers don’t have a Crosby or Malkin. I wouldn’t put McDavid there quite yet although that may change by November.

            However, Bonino is no gem. I like him but get real; he had 29 pts in 63 games. Hall and Eberle are as good as Kessel, but Hornqvist and Kunitz are not as good Hall and Eberle. Both are more equivalent to Pouliot. I’d still give Pit the edge overall because of the rest of their forwards vs Oilers like Lander, Letestu and Pakarinen but the discrepancy between the two groups is not much.

            No move is done in isolation. If the Oilers trade Nuge or Ebs or anyone they will have to be replaced.

            Here is the thing…Nick Bonino isn’t that hard to find. A replacement probably won’t be quite as good as Nuge or Ebs, but they’ll be a lot closer than any of the Oilers D are to being a legit top pair.

            As I said, trading the 4th overall would be my plan A, but I think it’s nonsense to suggest the Oilers can’t afford to move one forward.

          • pkam

            Sorry I mis-interpret your message. I though you mean our forward group is as good as the Pens and is not a problem.

            So I just want to point out that even as it stands, our forward group are not as good as the Pens. If we trade away Nuge or Eberle, it will be even further apart.

            I am not against trading Nuge or Eberle for a true top pairing defenseman, but I don’t think we will get a true #2 for Eberle. And no way we will get a true #1 defenseman like Letang for RNH or Eberle.

          • Zarny

            If the Oilers F group is not as good as Pit it isn’t far off. You seem to really overvalue players like Hornqvist, Bonino and Kunitz. Individually, they aren’t that good. Regardless, the Oilers aren’t 1 move away from being a contender.

            There is a good chance that the Oilers won’t get a true #1 like Letang or (insert name here) for anyone lol.

            That seems to be something many don’t get. Real life isn’t a video game. Simply offering enough “value” won’t necessarily get a deal done for Karlsson, Subban, Letang or any legit 1 D.

            That’s the problem with the “Hall has the most value” narrative. Theoretically, Hall does have the most value compared to Nuge or Eberle. It probably doesn’t matter. There are literally only 12-15 names you’d consider trading Hall for and all but maybe 2 or 3 are non-starters. Just because Hall has more value doesn’t mean D with more value will become available.

            I don’t see StL offering up Pietrangelo instead of Shattenkirk because the Oilers offer Hall instead of the 4th overall, Nuge or Ebs. That makes no sense.

          • pkam

            I believe I said the Pens are slightly better than the Oilers as it stands. If we subtract RNH or Eberle, we will be even further behind them.

            McDavid equals Crosby, Hall equals Kessel, Hornqvist equals Pouliot. No?

            The rest: RNH, Eberle, Drisaitl for Edmonton, Malkin, Bonino, Kunitz for Pens. Malkin + anyone of the other two Pens will be as good if not better than the 3 Oilers. No?

            I agree with what you said, we probably won’t get an elite defenseman even if we are willing to trade Hall. My question is if even Hall can’t get us an elite defenseman, how can we get one by trading RNH or Eberle?

  • A-Mc

    Nuge is an exceptional young man. I dont know what will be dangled for the 2 RHD that we need, but if Nuge is still an Oiler come October, I’ll have no complaints.

  • fran huckzky

    For those of you who are questioning Nuge’s defensive ability, please ponder this stat. Takeaways Datsyuk .73 per game and 2.22 per 60 min. Nuge .78 per game 2.46 per game. Considering the love that Pavel gets for his two way game I think Nuge deserves some as well

  • McRaj

    Blue Jackets were 15-23-3 at time of trade (pro rated to 66 points)

    After the trade they went 19-17-5 (pro rated to 86 points)

    Once again Madjam, statistical evidence proves you wrong. Columbus did improve after the trade.

    • madjam

      Did you read from Sportsquotient the report on how the trade has worked out for both players ? Probably not , so here is a summation . Nashville slightly wins overall because Johansen’s production ” drastically improved with Nashville , while Jones drastically decreased with Columbus ” .In a nutshell they would probably have done just as good if not better had they kept Johanssen , but I know you can’t see that .

      The article thinks Johanssens numbers will give Nashville the better of the deal even more so over time .

      What it does show is the likelihood Jones numbers would have drastically plummeted here , while Nuge’s numbers might have drastically increased going elsewhere .

      • McRaj

        On an 82 game pace, Johansen would have gotten 10 more points. I wonder how much of that has to do with his improved shooting percentage which in Nashville was closer to his career average. Also wonder how much it helped going to a overall better team with better offensive weapons in Forsberg and Neal than Columbus had, not to mention better D men in Josi Webber and Ellis. And from an analytical standpoint, his numbers actually got worse while being sheltered more.

        Jones on the other hand went to a worse team and on an 82 game pace he would have doubled his production (increase of 20 points). Analytically his numbers also got worse but that can be attributed to going to a worse team.

        Nashville actually had 45 points after 40 games (93 point pace) before trade and then had 51 points in the next 42 games (99 point pace) so not as significant an improvement as Columbus.

        Again, proving you wrong with statistical evidence. Madjam, you seem to be old school in believing the eye-test and believing in keeping a team together no matter what. How long have you been watching hockey for? Also, how much research do you do.

        • madjam

          I’d say I’ve been watching and played hockey for much longer than you’ve been alive . Eye test works better than analytics for me and most others . Watch the game same way with the eye test and without analytics , simply no need to and getting old enough don’t want to bother with it and it’s limitations . Does not add one iota to the enjoyment of the game to be honest . Don’t do a lot of research seeing as I am not interested in the analytics part of it to any great extent . As a matter of interest I did take a statistical analysis course at the university level and find the eye test to be far more accurate and accountable than those analytics could hope to be . You put far to much emphasis on them . Eye test is not old school at all , you should try and make your eye test better . Analytics for people with poor or under developed eye test abilities ?

          • McRaj

            No need to take personal shots. I actually enjoy our back and forth because you are passionate about opinion, even if it is misguided. Unfortunately the eye test says that Yak has a good shot so he should be a 40 goal scorer or that Korpi plays the PK so he’s a very good defensive forward.

            To bad the eye test doesn’t win games because according to eye test our players have a lot of skill and we should be an offensive goal scoring team lol. You always challenge me on things and I back my opinion up with statistical and analytical evidence, while the only backup you have is referring to eye test.

            Perhaps you haven’t noticed but team’s really seem to be employing people who are good with analytics now a days. Coyotes just hired a 20 something year old to be their GM. But Hey I respect your old school approach and honestly can not blame you much for sticking to it, as you likely witnessed the Oilers win 5 cups. Unfortunately Kevin Lowe too thought he could build a team like the 80s, didn’t work out too well though…

          • madjam

            My ending was not intended to be a personnel shot , it was a question back to you on whether you think analytic people lack good eye test abilities – nothing more than that . I find you insulting of people and their abilities using their eye test , should I take that as a personnel insult ?

          • Zarny

            If the eye test worked so well teams like Chi, LA & Pit wouldn’t have turned to analytics and history wouldn’t be littered with bad trades, and failed draft picks & free agent signings.

            That you don’t understand and don’t want to understand analytics doesn’t make them less effective I’m afraid. Nor does it make the eye test better.

            The reality, is that neither is better than the other. The eye test is useless if you don’t know what to watch. Analytics are useless if you don’t know how to contextualize the data.

            The real answer is every team is better if they use both properly.

  • Ed in Edmonton 1

    I don’t think any player has a more emotionally devoted fan base than Nuge. Some seem to consider it impossible that any trade involving Nuge could possibly improve he Oil.