Photo Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Nuge: The Survivor

Nuge. Forever.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Dec 5, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) scores against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen (34) during shootouts at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Can the Oilers Improve Internally?

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.

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:

  • Datsyukian

    In my books, Nuge has the highest hockey IQ on the team, including McDavid. *Call me a purist, but the condom part could have been spared from the article*

  • Serious Gord

    Was he the best player in that draft?

    That is not the same as asking “should the oil have drafted someone else?”

    To that question I think it can be argued that the oil had little choice – the only highly touted options were wingers. And there was no way they would trade down (for manifold reasons not the least of which was a lack of creativity on management’s part).

  • Dark Knight Returns

    Seriously though, isn’t it refreshing to see that a (still) young man keeps his humble and down to earth nature despite being a pro athlete and being extremely good at it? (Say what you may, he was a first overall pick). I read somewhere that his family wasn’t rich by any extent so probably that’s where he has learnt to keep his head down and go to work. That’s a leader, leading by example.

    On the other end of the spectrum we have Ference. Who won NOTHING with the Oilers, was given the captaincy because he was friends with Eakins, and comes 5 years later to blame everyone but himself and his buddy of the mess that the team was.

    Nuge rules. Ference sucks.

  • Abagofpucks

    I’m more than happy Nuge is on our team, he simply does it all, and that is hard to find. But now he’s getting to the end of his current contract and what kind of contract is he going to be asking for. All i know he isn’t going to be signing another 6×6 year deal, its going to be more money and likely a 6 to 8 year deal. I hope we can still afford him with what we know about our cap issues. Any ideas folks.

  • Gary Chalmers

    Keep RNH, if Boston wants him they need to offer way more then Torey Krug. RNH is a stand up person, a smart hockey player and the only person I would pick to be captain over McDavid. Ference can go soak his head, he wasn’t a leader in Boston, behind Chara and Lucic and he wasn’t a leader in Edmonton if he ran to tattle to Eakins, and for the thinking Eakins was a good coach one could hypothesize that Ference wasn’t to bright either.

  • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

    Pretty disappointed in you Dusty. There was a prime opportunity to mix in an “all HOPE was lost …” quote and it just slipped through the cracks. #NugeForever

  • SlovakOiler

    Nuge is a pure Pro on and off the ice and does everything the coaches want from him – that’s the reason he is much more defensively aware than the so called “H.O.P.E.” (and he’s probably the most intelligent of the bunch).

  • Spydyr

    Since the day he arrived I have been a huge Nuge fan. He is my kind of player. Plays a 200foot game, incredible hockey sense, cares about his end of the ice,plays hard every shift and he is a survivor. Six different head coaches during his eight-year career and not a peep of dissent.

  • YFC Prez

    WARNING I’m going to sound like a total fanboy here. But I’m 100% serious.

    Nuge is one of the top 2 way forwards in the game. Not just the oilers. He did show this under TM as well but KH just leans so hard on Nuge for his play away from the puck that I think it’s getting to the point the rest of the league will soon have to start taking notice.

    If baby nuges pace continues until the end of the season the man will be in talks for the Selke. That’s how good he is.

    He also routinely makes Hrudy (however you spell his name) look like a @ss hat constantly.

    “Good third line center” …….take off hoser.

  • CMG30

    RNH is the 2nd most important player on the team, only McDavid ranks higher. I know most folks rank LD higher than RNH, but that’s only because of his size and what they hope he will become. At this moment RNH is a better hockey player.

    Tip for Chirelli: when other teams are calling about the availability of a player, that means you’ve got something worth holding on to!

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    What’s implicit but not directly stated in the “if you need . . .” list above is that Nuge can play with anybody in any situation in the game. I’d be hard pressed to think of a line combination or situational need that is’n’t better because Nuge is on it.

    But he doesn’t do everything/i>. Who does, right?

    He doesn’t hit opponents into submission but he can take most garbage thrown his way (Turtlechuk). He’s better at face offs than he used to be, but I’d love to see him be the 55% guy for those 6-5 situations like last night or the last minute in a tight BoA game. After a career in the mid-to-low 40s%, last season he pushed his average to 48.8%–which is a rounding error away from being completely solid. But this year he’s down near 42% again. Frankly, it’s less about the % and more about the timing (although there’s a correlation). I’d like the Oilers to hire Datsyuk for a season or two to push Nuge, Drai and McDavid over 50%.
    Face offs aside, in many ways Nuge reminds me of Datsyuk with his breadth of skills, resiliency and hockey IQ. He’s one of those guys I’d like to see retire as an Oiler many years from now with his number in the rafters and a few rings on his fingers.

    Was he the best pick in the draft? Out of Kucherov, Scheifele, Trochek, Gibson and Gaudreau, Scheifele might be the only one I’d trade for Nuge.

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    I’ve never been very high on the guy and “over the top fan girl” like some guys but I’ll give credit where it’s due, he’s still here with an organization that would have something embarrassing happen to the team on a weekly basis for years but still put the jersey on. Got my respect there.

    I do think he’s a good player at the end of the day but one thing that’s always bugged me about him is that when he makes a mistake, it’s pretty noticeable. Case in point last night with under 2 to go and up 6-3 he gets the puck out of the zone and puts it into the defenseman’s gut about 10 feet past the blue line. Defenseman moves the puck back in quick and next you know, it’s now 6-4.

    Everyone makes mistakes, even the best of players (playing in the thin air in Colorado doesn’t help and sure it gassed some guys) but those are the kind of plays you can’t be making towards the end of the season or in playoffs.

    I’m definitely curious to see what Hitch does for him though for the remainder of the season, I think that’s match made in heaven.

  • Bills Bills

    RNH was always going to be the untouchable out of Hall, Yak, Ebs and even Draisaitl. Certainly the hardest working. I still believe his offensive potential is untapped.

  • Rama Lama

    The Nuge is Huge…….and he never complains about anything. He may not get the attention of a lot of Hockey writers, but every fan know how important he is to our team.