Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins coming through in the clutch both on and off the ice

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
1 month ago
Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the “jack of all trades” player that every Stanley Cup contending team needs. He plays on the power play, the penalty kill, on the wing, at center and if Rogers Place ever required a Zamboni driver in a pinch, he’d likely be the first to volunteer. With everything he brings to the table, many in Oil Country believe he doesn’t get enough credit for all that he does.
There was an article published by The Athletic in late January that anonymously polled various NHL players around the league, asking various questions. Nugent-Hopkins’ name was brought up in the category “Who is the most underrated player in the league?” with 168 players polled, four of whom voted for the Oilers’ forward.
On that note, the longest-serving Oiler reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career last season — a feat accomplished by only 124 players in NHL history. While he’s not keeping up with that pace this season, his heroic defensive plays over the last week, emphasize just how important he is to the team.
Against the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28, the game was tied 2-2 with less than 10 minutes in the third period, and Robert Thomas picked Evan Bouchard’s pocket at the blue line and charged toward goaltender Stuart Skinner. Thomas had a considerable head start on any Oilers’ player, he made a move on a breakaway, and out of nowhere, Nugent-Hopkins said, “Not today, sir” and he turned on the jets and hustled hard on the back check. He made an equally great stick lift, stripped the Blues’ forward of the puck, and skated it up ice the other way.
His effort earned ‘Nuge’ chants from the crowd at Rogers Place. Even Skinner chimed in, making noise for his teammate with stick taps to show his appreciation, because Nugent-Hopkins’ spectacular play was potentially game-saving. Subsequently, the Oilers went on to win 3-2 with captain Connor McDavid scoring in overtime.
Only six days later, he added another clip to his back-checking highlight reel. Edmonton was down a goal to the Boston Bruins with less than two minutes left and the net was empty with Skinner pulled. Bouchard’s shot was blocked, and the puck trickled down toward the Oilers’ zone.
The Bruins’ Danton Heinen was steps ahead of Nugent-Hopkins, but once again, he made another incredible back check and got just enough of his stick on Heinen’s shot to disrupt its trajectory and it grazed the post and stayed out of the net. Leon Draisaitl tied it 30 seconds later, and he was also the overtime hero when he ripped home his 32nd off the season. Yet, in his postgame remarks, he talked about the heroics of Nugent-Hopkins, saying:
“Yeah, he probably never gets enough credit for how hard he works, he’s one of the best guys in the world at stripping guys from behind and he’s such a sneaky hard worker, doesn’t get enough credit for that a lot of times. Without that play, I’m probably not standing here talking about a win.”

Nugent-Hopkins Was Also Clutch Off Of The Ice

Nugent-Hopkins has made significant contributions on the ice with crucial plays, and he’s made a big difference off the ice as well. On March 3, a viral post was released about two hockey players who came to the rescue of teens stuck in the snow, with the caption, “My son’s friend got stuck in the snow tonight. Another vehicle stopped to help, and out stepped Nuge and Hyman!” Top-notch human beings!” That said, Lisa MacGregor of Global News published a story confirming it was indeed Nugent-Hopkins and the latest member of the 40-goal club, Zach Hyman.
The article mentioned three teens got stuck in the snow and were pushing their car to no avail. Suddenly, a Porsche pulled up with two sharply dressed men, Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman, and one of the teens said, “Their exact words were, ‘hey fellas, you guys need any help?'” The Oilers’ star players went to work and helped push their car out of the snow with success, leaving the teens in awe over their kindness.
Nevertheless, even with the crucial plays Nugent-Hopkins has made over the last week, many Oilers’ fans have recognized his value ever since he put on the Oilers sweater on draft day some 13 years ago. That said, his recent standout efforts have him setting a good example for not only his teammates but also for Edmonton residents, encouraging them to lend a hand in the community whenever possible.

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