Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been through a lot during his time with the organization. The first overall pick in the 2011 draft has kept his head down, worked hard and developed into one of the most important pieces in the organization.
In 2010-11 the Oilers had H.O.P.E. Hall, Omark, Paajarvi and Eberle, then came the Nuge. Hall. Gone. Omark. Gone. Paajarvi. Gone. Eberle. Gone. Nuge is still here and thriving.
Nugent-Hopkins has had six different head coaches during his eight-year career with the Oilers. A rotating door of coaches has been used as an excuse for the lack of development for a number of Oilers. It was so bad that former Oiler Taylor Hall said he didn’t even want to talk with the coaches, yet Nugent-Hopkins kept working and most importantly developing.
When Tom Renney got fired, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Ralph Krueger got fired via skype, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Kevin Lowe broke the Oilers fan base into tiers, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Dallas Eakins fell in love with Ryan’s narrowing eyes and then got fired, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Todd Nelson coached 51 games and then got fired, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Taylor Hall got traded, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Jordan Eberle got traded, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Todd McLellan got fired, Nuge had to talk about it.
When Andrew Ference ripped his former teammates, Nuge had to talk about it.
If you haven’t caught on yet, Nugent-Hopkins is the only player on this team that has been through it all and yet, somehow, has managed to come out on top.
TOO DAMN IMPORTANT
Earlier this week there was speculation out of Boston asking if the Bruins could get their hands on Nugent-Hopkins in exchange for Torey Krug.
The Oilers could certainly use a defenseman like Torey Krug, but not at the cost of Nuge. The former Red Deer Rebel has become just too damn important to the Oilers.
If you need a penalty killer, Nuge is your guy.
If you need a first line left winger, Nuge is your guy.
If you need a second line centre, Nuge is your guy.
If you need a left half wall option on the first PP unit, Nuge is your guy.
If you need a right half wall option on the second PP unit, Nuge is your guy.
If you need someone in the shootout, Nuge is your guy.
Once again, if you haven’t caught on, Nugent-Hopkins can do EVERYTHING for you and he actually does all of it very well.
NUGE FOR NOW
Nugent-Hopkins is currently being asked to be the key source of secondary scoring for the top heavy Oilers and he’s getting the job done. I really like him as the centre and mentor for Jesse Puljujarvi as Hitchcock looks to get JP’s development back on track.
As of right now, I’m confident in saying Nuge is the third most important player on the team behind only McDavid and The Big Lekoski.
He has 10 goals and 29 points in 31 games, putting him on pace for career highs in both categories. If he remains on the top power-play unit I don’t see any reason Nugent-Hopkins can’t hit 70 points. He would need to pick up 41 points over his final 51 games to accomplish the feat. Prior to last night’s game, Nuge was playing 20:38 per night, the 16th highest total among forwards in the entire league, so you know he’ll have no shortage of opportunity offensively.
Over the past six or seven years, Nugent-Hopkins could have sulked, he could have pouted, he could have complained, he could have given up and nobody would have blamed him, but he didn’t and he won’t.
Hell, Nuge probably could have requested a trade and the city, while brokenhearted, would have probably had his back and understood where he was coming from. If Connor McDavid ever leads the Oilers to a Stanley Cup the first guy he hands that bad boy to would have to be Nuge.
The guy has basically become a cult hero. This was an excellent tweet.
RNH bags his 2nd. Returns to bench says "where was I?" Grabs a rye&ginger, finishes a hand rolled dart. Exhales slowly and says "that's for Hallsy & Ebs". Teammates are too frightened to look at him.
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson1260) December 12, 2018
Nuge has become the Chuck Norris of the Oilers and I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with it. Don’t fight it, embrace it.
Nuge doesn’t wear a condom, because there is no such thing as protection from the Nuge.
Nugent-Hopkins is the type of player you need on your team but more importantly, he’s the type of person you want on your team. And since it’s the hot topic this week, I’d rather have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on my team than Taylor Hall. Fight me.
Previously by Dustin Nielson:
- The Observation Deck: BOA Edition
- The Search for Offence
- Hot Takes: November Edition
- From the Deck Observations
- Alex the Great