With the Year of Nuge in full swing, and success flowing his way like the river of dreams, I’m going to take every opportunity I can to pump his tires and make you all realize how good this kid is. I’ve had to defend my boy at every turn, and I have to admit how beautiful it is to see him realizing his potential.
As the sitting President of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club, I’ll admit that it’s been tough sledding around here for the past couple of years. My boy hasn’t had the best run in that time and I’ve had to defend him more times than I can count. “How can they pay him $6 million? He’s not worth that much,” they’d say. All I could do was try my best to remind everyone how good he already is at only 24 years old.
This year, the tides have turned and the Nuge bandwagon is filling up. As a long-time card carrying member, I have to say that I’ve never been more excited to have people seeing things the way I do. After Tuesday’s Golden Knights shit kicking, Todd McLellan was asked about what’s going on with Nuge and what he’s doing differently this year. The answer was not so much praise as a Hallmark card professing love for the former first overall pick.
“I think (the offence) has always been in him. I think that it was there last year. We saw it at the World Cup.”
The fact that Nuge can put up points shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone because he’s done it before. I mean, the guy was drafted first overall as a point producing centre. Has he been a point-per-game guy? No, but developing into a 60-point man is no slouch either. The part of the story that some folks are forgetting is how Nuge was so tired of giving up goals over the past few seasons that he put all his efforts into his two-way play to try and eliminate the goals against. How many other 20-something millionaires would do that?
“I really, really believed in this guy at the World Cup. He was excellent and I thought he was going to have a really big year. It didn’t quite go for him the way he wanted to.”
Oh man… Remember how fired up we all were after Nuge was lights out as a shutdown man at the World Cup? I think most of us expected more from him last year and that’s what made it so disappointing. His production definitely left something to be desired but his defensive play picked up the slack in those down times. Frankly, watching his two-way game emerge was something the fans should be excited about. No, he didn’t get the season he wanted after that tournament but the skills he showed was something we hadn’t really seen before. That was encouraging.
“This year, things are happening for him. He’s consistently doing it right at both ends of the rink and getting rewarded with offence.”
The thing that is the most noticeable for me is that Nuge seems to have his nose for the net back. Rather than defaulting to defence, we’re seeing RNH drive the net and get himself into better scoring areas. After Todd McLellan challenged him this summer, Nuge has responded with aplomb and looks more like the player we all hoped he would be.
“I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. I hope that it can continue.”
I’M PROUD OF HIM EVERY SINGLE DAY, TODD! GET ON MY LEVEL. Anyway… Tell us more about Nuge and how important to the team he is. Go for it, and speak slowly for me. My body is ready.
“There was a lot made out of Connor and Leo and the years they had last year, the contracts and all that type of stuff, but I can tell you that his teammates and the staff have not forgotten about 93 because he’s so important and he does so many things well.”
Amen, Todd. You’re singing to the choir. Now, it’s up to everyone else to get on the same page and for you to remind your GM that he’s untradeable. Thank you.