The Edmonton Oilers have been gifted with three outstanding young talents since 2010 summer. Each of them has a unique skill set and something that ignites the fanbase: Yak City is pure joy; Taylor Hall is all business; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is cerebral and a wonder in all three segments of the ice. Which one will be better? Do we know already?
WHO WILL HAVE THE BETTER CAREER?
We don’t know, won’t for some time I’d expect. Injuries and opportunities, events and luck and dollars and and and will determine the best of the trio.
What we can do is examine their rookie seasons for clues.
The first thing we have to establish is that these rookies are other worldy–we are NOT comparing these fellows to average. The #1 overall pick is as good as it gets.
TOI PER GAME AS ROOKIES
- Taylor Hall 10-11: 18:12TOI; 15:26EV; 2:43PP; 0:01PK
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 17:36TOI 14:33EV; 3:00PP; 0:01PK
- Nail Yakupov 12-13: 14:28TOI; 12:01EV; 2:26PP; 0:00PK
The Oilers didn’t use Yakupov as much as the other two, owing at least a little to having several top 6F options–especially on RW (Eberle and Hemsky) and powerplay options. Based on these numbers, Hall would seem to be the most prepared, skating an impressive 15 minutes a night as a rookie (even strength).
5×5/60 AS ROOKIES
- Taylor Hall 10-11: 1.78
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 1.98
- Nail Yakupov 12-13: 2.19
These are nice numbers, but Yak City’s is the best by a nice margin. You could say he’s there because of better linemates than Hall enjoyed as a rookie (Horcoff was Hall’s center, Gagner was Yak’s) and that’s true. Still, let’s at least allow for the possibility that the young Russian may be a more effective NHL scorer at 5×5. Which is, you know, incredible considering Hall’s 2012-13 number (3.04) is well inside the league’s top 10.
5×4 AS ROOKIES
- Taylor Hall 10-11: 3.27
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 7.30
- Nail Yakupov 12-13: 4.30
The Nuge as a rookie on the PP was a freak. His second season wasn’t as effective, but we know he was playing with an injury. If he can get within 5 miles of that rookie number in his NHL career the Nuge is going to drive NHL opposition crazy.
I’m not going to post CorsiRel (shot differential) for each rookie, but suffice to say Hall led the team by a nice margin, the Nuge was mid-pack (6th) and Yakupov was 9th–suggesting what our eyes have seen is in fact correct: Hall was pushing the river early and often, Nuge had some nice indicators before injury and Yakupov has some chaos to his game that makes him more of a project in this area.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
These are ridiculous talents. If we could identify the Iron Man in the group, we’d have our winner. Based on the information currently available, I’d bet on Taylor Hall. It is to the credit of the other two players that the race is close at all.
The Kingston trio is special, and they are just getting rolling.