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Edmonton Oilers player review and 2021-22 preview: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ down campaign in 2020-21 was far from ideal for a player in a contract year.
But make no mistake, the Oilers weren’t going to let him go. Instead, they inked the 28-year-old to an eight-year, $5.125-million deal.
While he still had a productive season scoring 35 points in 52 games, his 5×5 play fell off a cliff. There, he scored just 1.15 points per hour — a significant drop from the 1.96 he averaged over the three years prior.
His special team production, however, didn’t drop all too much. He scored 5.48 points per hour on the powerplay, a minute increase from the 5.40 he averaged over the last three years.
His on-ice shooting percentage fell, too, and that makes a big difference in his point production. But there were lots to like in the same breath.
At 5×5, his shot attempts for per hour were 56.86 while his against per hour were 52.69 — the highest and lowest of his career, respectively.
While slightly outscored at 5×5, his expected goal differential paints a much different picture. His expected goals for per hour were 2.73 while his expected goals against were just 2.19 — again, numbers that were the highest and lowest of his career, respectively.
Among forwards at 5×5 rates who played over 100 minutes for the Oilers, his CF/60 ranked sixth, his CA/60 ranked first, his xGF/60 ranked third, while his xGA/60 ranked ninth.
Nugent-Hopkins, despite a down year, was still a strong piece of this Oilers puzzle and will continue to be until he undoubtedly retires a member of the organization.
This season it will be no different. I expect his 5×5 scoring to return to what it has been in the past and if he can keep up his strong shot and expected goal rates, he could have one of the strongest seasons of his pro career. The additional depth the Oilers have added will be a big help, too, in making those things happen.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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