Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is currently continuing to grow his bromance with Connor McDavid in Denmark. Nuge is off to a nice start at the World Championships being locked in on the left side with McDavid, as the coaching staff continues to rotate players through on the right-side. Sound familiar?
I had a chance to catch up with Nugent-Hopkins on my show Wednesday morning. We discussed a number of different topics, including his inability to find a stream of the Kentucky Derby in Denmark.
Let’s break down a few of the things he had to say.
After waiting far too long to put Nugent-Hopkins on McDavid’s wing, the Oilers are fortunate to have the two players get an extra couple of weeks together overseas.
“Anytime you get to play with each other it definitely helps, so playing over here, we’ve had four games together, it’s been feeling pretty good. It’s easier to come over and play with someone you are familiar with, on the other side it should help us build chemistry if we are playing together in the future,” is what Nugent-Hopkins said about the extra time together.
What’s up with “if we are playing together in the future”? Silly Nuge. Todd McLellan has certainly frustrated a lot of people with his line juggling but I’d be shocked if Nugent-Hopkins isn’t on McDavid’s wing for the opener next season.
On The Power-Play
I do think the Oilers best chance to succeed is with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins together on the power-play. The only problem with having both of them on the same unit is they both excel in the same position on the ice. I asked Nuge if he was open to adjustments on the PP.
“The side I’m playing right now, I’ve played in the past and for a lot of this year so it hasn’t been too big of an adjustment.”
I’d like to see the Oilers load up the top PP unit with McDavid, Nuge, Draisaitl, plus a right shot forward and of course a d-man that Chiarelli gives up too much for this off-season.
On McLellan Returning
Nugent-Hopkins has been with the Oilers for seven seasons and has had six different head coaches. Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, Craig MacTavish, Todd Nelson and Todd McLellan have all had a chance to coach the first overall pick in 2011.
“I’ve been here for seven years and I’ve had a lot of coaches. It is nice to have a familiar face back there. You already know what he expects and he knows what he can expect from you. He knows his players and we know his systems,” said Nugent-Hopkins when asked about the return of McLellan.
Random Nuge Horse Racing Notes
- He couldn’t find a stream of the Kentucky Derby in Denmark so he watched the replays and is hoping someone back home taped it. A small part of me likes to imagine Nuge still operating with VHS recordings.
- He currently has two horses racing. His most successful horse is a four-year old named Yukon Belle that was the horse of the year in Vancouver two years ago
- Yes, he really loves horses. I hate horses. It’s a long story.
What’s Next For Nuge
In the immediate future, I’m going to guess it’s leading Team Canada in goals on the way to a Gold Medal in Denmark. Next season it’s a return to the most sought after spot in the NHL, riding shotgun with 97.
McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins were first united on March 10th against the Minnesota Wild. Pontus Aberg got the first look on the right side and didn’t do much with the opportunity, except party. McNuge was left together for the final 13 games of the season. Nugent-Hopkins finished that final stretch with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 13 games. McDavid was pretty good as well, I guess, chalking up 27 points in those same 13 games.
Let’s pretend that in some crazy world McLellan leaves Nugent-Hopkins with McDavid all season. What are reasonable offensive expectations for the Oilers horseracing enthusiast?
I said on my show this week, and I’m not changing my mind in the blogosphere, that I would be disappointed if Nugent-Hopkins finished with anything less than 35 goals and 80 points. Some of you may be yelling at your computer screen, or mobile device, right now. “HE’S NEVER HAD MORE THAN 56 POINTS IN SEASON NIELSON!”. Calm down. You’re right. He hasn’t, but that’s about to change. In order for that to change McLellan just needs to leave things the same.
In their final 13 games together, McDavid was clipping along at 2.07 points per game while Nuge sat at 1.15. I know it’s a small sample size but if you pro-rate his numbers for an 82 game season, Nugent-Hopkins would finish with 94 points. If McDavid can hit 120-130 points next season it’s actually very reasonable to think his go-to linemate tops out at 85-95 points. McNuge is real, and it’s spectacular.
P.S. Keep Nuge Forever