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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

A Letter to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

With the 2016-17 season in the books, I wanted to take a minute to write a letter to my beloved Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to give him some homework and words of inspiration to take into the summer. 

Dear Nuge,

This is a hard letter for me to write because I think you know how much I love you. You may not RT or favourite any of my Nuge-related tweets, but I know for a fact that you’ve seen some of them. Ever since the day you were drafted, I believed that you were going to be a big part of turning this franchise around and that you had the ability to be a real difference maker on the ice. Hell, I even made you a #NugeForCalder video that was viewed more than 10,000 times on YouTube and I wasn’t even working here yet. That’s love.

Listen, I’m not going to sugarcoat this – you didn’t have a great year. You know it and I know it. That being said, I’m not one of the people that have already forgotten the better times. Two seasons ago, you set a career high in goals with 24 and also hit 56 points for the second straight year, and some people were talking about whether or not you should be named as captain. At 24 years old, you’ve already hit the 50 point mark three times in your young six-year career, and I think it’s something you should be proud of, but that doesn’t mean you can just rest on your laurels. You have to get better.

  • You need to lock yourself in your parent’s basement and practice your shot accuracy. You led the Oilers in shots on net in the first round and finished the playoffs tied for second, but you couldn’t cash in. I want 1000 shots per day all summer long, okay?
  • Can we talk about face-offs? Because you’re not very good at them. Now, I’m not going to say that you’re horrible because there are some good players on either side of you in terms of faceoff win%  percentage, but settling for mediocrity isn’t the answer. Hire a coach, get a friend to drop pucks, lock your bedroom door and work on your forearms. Just do what you have to do to get better.
  • Have you volunteered to play on the wing? I assume Petey (pretty bird) is going to do everything he can to get rid of 💩 this summer and that means the 2L/R spot will be open for experimentation if anyone struggles. With the way the silver fox loves loading up centremen on the wings, I wonder what you would look like riding shotgun with Connor or Leon? If Joe Pavelski can play on the wing then so can you, and I’d bet that you’d do a damned fine job of it too.
  • I know people have told you since your first day in the league that you need to get stronger, but I want you to start working on your skating again. I remember your rookie season when your edgework and speed was one of your biggest assets, and I think you got away from that shifty style that made you so tough to defend. Now that the upper body strength is more line with where it needs to be I want to see you darting in and out of traffic again. Cool? Cool.
  • I know you’re super into horses, and that’s cool to have hobbies, but you’re getting paid some major cheddar to play hockey and that has to be your focus. I spoke to a family friend that is in the world of breeding and selling horses and they told me how much work it can be and how much time it takes to do a good job. While it’s great to have hobbies you need to focus on what pays you $6 million per year. Besides, horses will still be a thing when you’re retired. Think about it.

Now, before you start feeling down and think that your #1 fanboy has turned on you I want you to know that it’s just not true. The improvements you’ve made on your two-way game have not gone unnoticed, and your willingness to accept a new role when Connor got to town showed a level of maturity that I don’t think I would have been able to manage. The way you shut down Thornton/Pavelski in the first round of the playoffs was a big reason that the team was able to move on, and there’s a place on this team for that kind of play. The problem comes when the points stop, and that’s what I need you to work on.

Most importantly, I want you to know that you’re still my special little man on this hockey team and I truly hope that I haven’t watched you play your last game in Oiler silks. If Swag Daddy Chiarelli can keep the budget in check then having Connor, Leon, and yourself up the middle is depth that any team would want to have. I know that you can do this. You’ve got the skills to pay the bills, and if you can show the kind of love for hockey that you do for your horses then that’s the kind of boost the team needs so that we can start planning parade routes.

I’m not saying you have to be “the guy” anymore, but you have to play like you still want to be the guy. Otherwise, you can call Taylor and ask how cool it was to watch the Oilers winning playoff games rather than playing in them.

I believe in you and now I need you to believe in yourself even half as much as I do.

Peace and love,

-Baggedmilk

NUGENT-HOPKINS’ CAREER SO FAR

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2011-12 Oilers NHL 62 18 34 52 16 -2
2012-13 OKC Barons AHL 19 8 12 20 6 7
2012-13 Oilers NHL 40 4 20 24 8 3
2013-14 Oilers NHL 80 19 37 56 26 -12
2014-15 Oilers NHL 76 24 32 56 25 -12
2015-16 Oilers NHL 55 12 22 34 18 -9
2016-17 Oilers NHL 82 18 25 43 29 -10 13 0 4 4 2
NHL Totals   395 95 170 265 122   13 0 4 4 2

  • Aendayana

    Amen. RNH all playoffs I wore your jersey, it’s not that we don’t love you, we just know you are capable of so much more. We want that to happen with the Oilers

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Maybe I’m missing something but how does a 2L spot open up? Maroon and Lucic are penned in on my lineup as first and second line LW – maybe RNH as a RW or 3rd line LW?

    • I changed it to say 2L/R and I say that because of how McLellan switched things up when lines weren’t going. I think Nuge is mostly going to play centre next year but I can see him playing on the wing if Looch/Maroon slow down. Poor phrasing on my part – will fix.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    RNH has responded and I have it here!
    ————————————————————————

    Dear Mister BAGGEDMILK,

    My stupid mom doesn’t let me use the internet on Fridays so I sneaked this letter to MacT’s Neglected Helmet and asked him to post it for me to your internet blog thingy. Thank you for the nice words that you wrote to me and your ideas for me to improve my hockey skills and stuff. Shooting the puck better and being better with faceoffs are things I plan to work on this summer. I also plan to work out more in the gym to get stronger and more muscles. This will help me with my hockey and also make Amy finally notice me more. I’ve been asking her out for a date for the last TWO years but she keeps telling me that she’s already going steady with Jack even though he’s a stupid face who doesn’t even know how to ride a horse. Can you believe that?

    Anyway back to hockey. This year was a tough year for both me and Ebs. We were excited about having a fresh start in the playoffs but we both didn’t score. Well Ebs kind of did because he has a really pretty girlfriend if you know what I mean. And I don’t because of stupid Jack. I really don’t know why Amy doesn’t like me. I bought her a cowboy hat with her name on it and everything. Like seriously it’s not fair. Sigh.

    Sincerely,
    Your Pal Nuge

    PS: do you have any of those fidget spinner things Mister BAGGEDMILK I have nothing to do this summer and kinda bored lol

  • Rebuild3.0

    this is exactly how i feel. love rnh and believe he can be better. must have been a tuff one to write for bagged milk because of how much he loves this guy

    • ed from edmonton

      With the contracts that the Oil need to get done in the next two off-seasons (LD, McD, Nurse, Caggulia, Benning maybe Russel) something salary will need to be dumped. The group of Ebs-RHN-Pou are the likely candidates to be moved. What actually happens will be determined by what the market for these guys are as much as anything else.

    • Stack Pad Save

      No doubt. Anyone tied to the boat anchor that is Jordan Eberle would struggle. I thought Nuge was super unlucky, couple of shots hit stick knobs and posts. Also, Eberle was turnover machine who couldn’t make a 3 foot pass. I bet Nige and 💩 Felt like they played short handed all playoffs. That being said, I really agree with bagged milk when he says Nuge’s edge work and acceleration were poorer this year.

      I think Nuge did get a lot bigger last summer, he wasn’t getting knocked of pucks this year and he was laying out hits this year. However I think this caused hi to lose some acceleration and quick change of direction ability that needs to be regained.

      • Yeah, that excuse is invalid, because clearly as a #1 overall pick RNH must always make every player he plays with better otherwise he’s a bust. This is what #1 overall picks do. Hell, Iiro Pakarinen should get 20 goals a year if he plays with RNH. That’s just what’s expected from a #1 overall. And that’s reasonable. And that’s why Yak was a bust too, because he couldn’t produce playing with Oilers 4th liners (which were really 5th or 6th liners on any other NHL team when he was on the Oilers).

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Dear Ryan,

    I feel like I can call you Ryan because you and me are so alike. I’d like to meet you one day, it would be great to go for a skate. I know I can’t skate as fast as you but I think you’d be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you shoot fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have no been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. I hope you write back this time, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be top shelf!

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      My tea’s gone cold
      I’m wondering why I got out of bed at all
      The morning rain clouds up my window
      And I can’t see at all
      And even if I could it’d all be gray
      But your picture on my wall
      It reminds me that it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad

  • Oil9744

    Haa great read, I think everyone knows Nuge has shown he can be A LOT better then the way he’s played all season, he still has value to his game and is still very young, but the problem is always money, Oilers can’t be paying a 3rd line centre that money, especially when he’s not producing no where near enough, I really hope Nuge turns it around in Edmonton as much as the next guy does I really do and that goes for Eberle as well, but I’m an Oilers fan first before anyone on the team, If there is a trade that will help Edmonton cap wise or depth wise or both I would do that trade all day

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    I like Nuge too and was dying for him to score in the playoffs. He has real value to this club. If he’s going to play centre, he needs better wingers than Ebs and Pou, otherwise, playing wing on the top 2 lines is a definite option. He’s a character guy. I hope it works out for him with thw Oilers!

  • Big Nuggets

    Ya, I’m A huge Nuge fan.
    I thought he would be much more of a scorer at this point in his career. I think the playoff draught and the years of terrible teams stagnated some growth. Especially with Ebs. I hope all the adrenaline from the playoffs motivates Nuge to have a big summer of training. He’s young and can grow and improve still.
    He is a good player and in the san jose series i think he was second in ice time among forwards(dont quote me). He just needs a little more bite in his offensive game. people bring up the world cup and Nuge was good in that but he had Mckinnon as a line mate. with highly offensive wingers Nuge would get points. kinda like Anisimov on Chicago.
    The contract is a bit much for what he’s producing. Although they skipped the bridge deal so that the later years of the contract should give better value. so if he has a jump in production next year that would kinda be right on time.
    Really hopong Nuge can stick with the team in the future, but not if he doesnt earn it. Im hoping he finds another level and proves the doubters wrong.

  • Jack Dupp

    I like the Nuge and think he has a bright future ahead of him. That being said that future is not with the Oilers. Depending on the year you can find a guy in FA for 1/2 the cost that puts up the same totals.It’s a dollars and cents thing.
    GMs have watched him play. They see the same player we do. Slightly flawed but still very young with a long NHL career in front of him.
    I believe he will be traded for a top 6 winger with a slightly smaller contract. He does have value and teams like Phoenix, Carolina, New Jersey and dare I say Vancouver, have the space and opportunity for him. Can PC find a fit?

  • commonsense

    Nice letter. Very sincere with a lot of valid points however I would like to reiterate the managerial incompetence of MacT in giving RNH the big deal. In hindsight, very easy to say a bridge deal would’ve been better for this player. It would’ve provided at minimum the motivation for RNH to improve and prove himself for the next contract instead human nature as it is allowed a modicum of complacency to sit in. I think it’s a good bet Chia tried to trade this guy but no takers at 6mill per year.

  • Dirtbag Daddy

    Nuge – Just one good piece of advice. Do NOT use the same shooting coach as Eberle. I think Eberle used a shooting coach to improve his golf game last summer.

  • DXB

    Couldn’t agree more on the Nuge review. Always liked this kids work ethic and adaptability. That said if Chia decides to make moves and we remove the trade untouchables its our boy Nuge that floats to the top as an interesting target, like Hall was last summer. If one of the 6 million dollar men are moving I would suspect its the Nuge. As much as we would want it to be Ebs I can’t imagine a scenario where another GM would be willing to accept that contract with the exception of the expansion draft. I will hope I’m wrong and that he’s around in the fall.

  • madjam

    Impressed with Nashville’s game against the Ducks last night , and wonder how our Oilers would have faired against that club . Nashville has probably best defence in the league and are excellent at moving the puck out of own end and joining in the rush . They certainly have a lot of team speed and forwards that are truculent , fast and committed to crashing the net . Nashville also has a good goaltender that is hot during the playoffs . To bad Eberle and Hopkins did not play with the physicality and resolve of Preds Arvidson . Preds look like they are to fast and defensive for the Ducks to handle in that series . How would Oilers have done against the Preds whom beat us during the season games ?

  • ricardo2000

    I have been hoping that Nuge would turn into Bob Gainey (Selke award pioneer), the great shutdown player, but with significant offensive upside. This could allow the Oilers to set McD and Drai loose to feast on lesser talents.

  • paul wodehouse

    so you give these two another year to swan lake it ? THE WINDOW TO WIN A CUP WILL CLOSE AND 93 AND 14 WILL BE THE DOOR STOPS …GIRLY BOYS GO PLAY WITH PRV…

  • @ baggedmilk: Interesting way to reach someone, good old fashioned letter writing. Good for you, I can see your heart is in the right place.

    You raised something that bothers me a lot. Players not doing what they should during the summer break. The game has turned many young men into Millionaires and are now set for life. Appreciation and respect would dictate that they do everything possible to make themselves the best they can be for the team they play for. Have some respect for the guy that signs your cheque.

    Teams should have far more control over what players do during the off season.

  • Justin

    Yeah this is definitely what he needs is taking advice from Cheetos fingers on the internet. You don’t see Nuge writing you an open letter about your “Calder YouTube Videos”. Ppl need to stay in their lane.

  • Spiel

    One more season to pick things up. Once McDavid’s new contract kicks in, I don’t see the Oilers keeping a $6M 3rd line center for another 3 seasons. The question is RNH worth more in a trade now or next offseason?