Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a solid step forward as an NHL player and that included improved offense season-over-season at 5×5 and flourishing (along with Jordan Eberle) without Chance on the portside. There’s still room to grow—he is just 22 (turned in April)—but this is a quality NHL player.
RE 14-15: 82GP, 24-44-68 .829
ACTUAL 14-15: 76GP, 24-32-56 .737
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS BOXCARS, THREE YEAR TREND
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS FANCY STATS, THREE YEAR TREND
- Hey! He finally hit 50 points! Grrrrr.
- You mentioned at the top he’s improving. Where? EV scoring/5×560 above shows nice growth and his Corsi for% 5×5 is moving in a nice direction. He’s playing a lot—too much I’d say, they should back him down from PK time with Lander now on the team—but he’s 22 now and we should be entering seasons where the offense improves.
- He should be better on the power play. He WAS as a rookie but the numbers have been going the wrong way steadily. I’m not sure if he’ll be a monster at 5×4 but the guy is a sublime passer so he can fill a role.
- I just don’t see him as a big scorer. It’s because he’s still a kid. He’s top 10 among center’s (Eberle isn’t a C) from 2000+ in points-per-game among players who were in 100 games or more (here).
- Well, THAT just rolls off the tongue. Completely rational search there. That list is perhaps a little unfair, as most of the players above him were in the NHL at 20 and 21, didn’t have blippy teenage building years. Nuge is good. He just doesn’t shave is all.
- But he’s not going to be Toews? Nuge at 20 scored .7 points per game, Toews was .841. Nuge at 21 scored .7 points per game, Toews was .895. Toews had more support but I think Toews is out of the conversation at this point. We’ll revisit in a year.
- Who on that list would be a good comp? Well, in the range are Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal, Brad Richards, Nathan Horton, Ryan Getzlaf.
- Where does he rank at C scoring? No. 28 overall, right beside Bergeron.
- Not bad for a third-line center. It’s been a brutal winter but I’ve grown tired of the blatant shots Oilers take in national media. Very poor form, I’ll remember because it’s wildly unfair and doing it just because you can is simply ignorant. All anyone has is credibility, some national media are sending theirs into the elevator shaft with daft or mean-spirited verbal. RNH, on a sucky team, is one of the 30 best centers offensively in the NHL, and I’d take him over MANY of the players ranked ahead of him. Full stop. Third line my ass. You must be thinking of your own career. It must hurt to know you missed your Stanley in 1983 because you were the third-best option and couldn’t get a sniff.
- I thought you liked him? I do, but that was a massively unfair and inaccurate statement. It should be remembered until he retracts.
- How is Nuge’s faceoff percentage? Improving. He was 42.4% in 2013-14 and is up to 45.7 this season. He’ll get there. He was at 48% through end December, I wonder if he was injured or the club changed some faceoff strategy. Either way, it isn’t a strength.
- So he’s Dave Keon and that’s good? Yes! Exactly. He’s already facing the tough opposition but those zone starts may go to a Norm Ullman when they find him. The key for us now is to watch how much EV offense he can deliver (2.00/60 is quality) and then to see if he can (along with the team) get back to those ridiculous 5×4 numbers.
- Do you think it was luck on the early PP? First year was witchcraft (hat tip Tyler Dellow) as he was No. 2 in the entire NHL. This season he was No. 131—and I think there’s probably a spot in the middle where he belongs.
- Who is Norm Ullman and who is the next Norm Ullman? Former Oiler, had a terrific career in the NHL with Toronto and Detroit. Went out with the WHA Oilers. He was a tremendous offensive center for many years (former Edmonton Oil King, too) and when Ullman played with Keon the offensive situations belonged to Norm.
- Who will the Oilers’ Ullman be? Well, I’m not sure.
- The Answer Man, ladies and gentlemen! It isn’t that easy. Edmonton has Leon Draisaitl on the way, but is he a superior offensive player to Nuge? I don’t know that to be true, suspect it may not be the case. Dylan Strome? Maybe, maybe not. Nuge is an excellent player with a range of skills, and his offense may not reach Toews-levels, but Edmonton doesn’t have a clearly better choice for the Ullman role at this time and unless McDavid lands in their lap there are none on the horizon.
- Maybe Nuge is the Ullman? That could be, but the 10 best centers in the NHL this season all posted 70 or more points. Nuge remains shy of that and until he gets there we’ll have to assume he may land in either role for the heart of his career.
- Is he a disappointing No. 1 overall? Hell, no. Nuge is progressing well and taking on players far older and stronger. I think he has a good chance to be the best of the three No. 1 overall selections, and I didn’t feel that way a year ago. He’s progressed in a significant way and is a splendid two-way player. Youth is his biggest worry and there’s not much you can do about it until he’s 24.
- He’s no Pavel Datsyuk! Datsyuk arrived in the NHL fall of 2001 and he was 23 years old and two months. Nuge will be that age in June of 2016, we can BEGIN to compare them at that time.
- Will he one day be capable of driving the bus without Hall? That’s what we started to see this season in my opinion. He spent about one half of the season with/without and finished (5×5 Corsi for %) 49.6 without and 50.6 with Hall. Info here. The big question now (for me) has to do with the winger you run with Nuge as a pair. Is it Eberle? Is it Pouliot? Or is it Hall? Probably all three, depending on circumstance.
- Who would you run him with next season? Nuge played well with Pouliot-Eberle and I’d probably run that line to start the season. I really liked Hall at center down the stretch (we’ll talk in his RE) but would place Chance on a line with an established (not yet on the roster) center if I could—with the other winger coming from a group that might include Nail Yakupov, Teddy Purcell and Andrew Miller (who looked like he could keep up with Hall in a very small sample size). I’d try to cobble together a formidable 2line with Hall as the impact player.
- How did Nuge do under Nelson? Nuge was 34GP, 10-13-23 (.676) on December 27, and 46GP, 14-19-33 (.717) afterward. No news here.
- Why this song? There are no words.
- Ha! Seriously, why? It’s brilliant and unique and puts me in a good mood immediately. That’s how I view Nuge.
- I thought this would be Hall’s track. Nope, there’s a better one for Chance.
- It really is a great song. It’s perfect, the guitar just runs free and the keyboards hover but never take over. It’s a tremendous melody. Dickey Betts, man. Dickey Betts.
- RNH is the best Oilers center since? Doug Weight, with apologies to Shawn Horcoff who is wildly underrated by most Oilers fans. That’s my answer but it’s early days. If he can spike offensively, and this would be the range (Henrik did it at 24), then we can begin a conversation that involves the entire library.