Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is one part sorcerer, one part mystery, one part ghost and one part magician. We’ve seen him for two years now, and comparisons are made but remain vague. This, my friends, is a telltale sign of greatness: The Nuge is special.
RE 13-14: 62, 21-42-63
- Those are some sweet boxcars. Well, the Nuge delivers on the 5×4 and should have a better year 5×5. This is a pretty good bet based on his own past.
- Where does he improve in your RE to gather the extra points? Nuge will see his TOI increase this season (I’m suggesting this will happen for the entire top 6) and I also think he’ll return to his 5×5/60 rate (1.98) he enjoyed as a rookie. In 62 games at age 18, he scored 29 EV points and 23 PP points, I’m suggesting an increase at each discipline (in the same number of games)–a healthy increase to be sure, but let’s remember he’s a #1 overall selection.
- Who is he? I think he’s unique; there’s some Datsyuk, there’s some Sakic, there’s some ‘he who shall not be named’ but at some point we’ll know and that’ll be the Nuge. This is actually the fun part, watching him step into more of the offense and more of the battle. He has some insane abilities–ask any hockey guys about his edges one time, but only do it if you have about three hours. Nuge is crazy good on his skates.
- What is he good at? He’s a stealth back checker, does the old Keon by coming up and getting the puck off sticks–brilliant stuff–and he’s a supreme passer, elite as a teeanger and God only knows what he’ll when he matures. He has exceptional on-ice vision, a sixth sense, some kind of intuition, that allows him to wait until the exact moment when a pass is best sent away. It’s a thrilling component of his game and one expects it’ll make him an outstanding 5×4 player for a long time.
- Anything else? This goes back to his skating, but he’s everywhere and incredibly elusive. RNH stops and starts instead of making a wide looping swing, he can get up to speed in a heartbeat and he can somehow position himself to avoid the head on checks that can do damage. He must have a math brain like that kid with the big head in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon–seems to be able to calculate avoidance in Matrix-like fashion.
- What isn’t he good at? He wasted a lot of shots last season–could have had a dozen goals without that wonky sight–and I do think 5×5 scoring will be shy of Hall’s as we roll along. He’s also slight, that means he’s going to lose some battles and all Oiler fans pray for baby Nuge daily–someday he’ll have more weight on that frame.
- What about the Vollman Sledgehammer? Rock solid in both seasons, he’s a teenager with blue skies–and man that is a rare item. Nugent-Hopkins is such a massive piece of the future, he’s posting these ridiculous blue bubbles in the two way division before he shaves. Surreal. Surreal.
- He doesn’t push the river, though, not like Hall. No, but expecting that is crazy. Hall is 17 months–basically TWO YEARS–older than the Nuge. That’s a crazy, crazy difference for two guys drafted in consecutive years. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins just turned 20. He’s six months older than Nail Yakupov for crying out loud–he is really just a kid. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this fall will be just about exactly the same age as Jordan Eberle was when he made his NHL debut.
- Are there signs he’ll be able to push the river one day without Hall? His rookie season was better in this regard (Nuge was healthier in 2011-12). His WOWY as a rookie on that line: RNH w/Hall: 53.3%; RNH w/o Hall: 44.7%; Hall w/o RNH: 51.3%. His WOWY this past season with Hall: RNH w/Hall: 54.6%; RMH w/oHall: 39%; Hall w/o RNH: 44%.
- What does it all mean? Basically, Hall pushes the river on that line, which is not a surprise buddy has been doing it since he got off the lear jet. The Nuge–while still a teenager–was playing in the “two-way” quadrant of the Vollman Sledgehammer and delivering 44.7% shot differential without Hall. That’s impressive, considering the quality of the team he has been playing for in the two seasons NHL.
- Long way to go. The beauty of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is that he started chasing the river at such a young age it’s going to mean he can play at par in his very early 20′s–even without Hall, imo.
- Are his WOWY’s better than Gagner? Let’s use 2011-12 for Gagner since last year was so wonky. We’ll also use Hall because he’s unique on the Oilers. Gagner w/Hall: 54.7% (RNH was 53.3%); Gagner w/o Hall: 46.2% (RNH was 44.7%); Hall w/o Gagner: 50.8% (Hall was 51.3%). So, about equal when Nuge was a rookie, and let’s remember sample size, et cetera et cetera et cetera. I think Nuge is going to be an outstanding 2-way center, the fact he isn’t drowning with or without on this horrible, horrible, horrible team is splendor.
- You don’t seem at all worried about last year’s offense? No, the 5% shooting percentage will improve and he was quite good as his season wound down (final 22: 3-14-17 +3) so for me this is a strong arrow.
- He’ll never be an offensive dynamo. It would be insane to make any kind of sweeping statements based on a shortened, injured season. Bitch.
- So what can he be? I think we’ve seen enough of RNH to say could be a dynamic 2-way C who can play in all three disciplines and impact the game. I think he’ll be a very good EV scorer and a tremendous PP quarterback, and he could be the best of the #1 overall picks.
- What can’t he be? A power forward, King Kong.
- Can he be better than Hall? Sure, although Hall looks like he’s going to be tough to catch. I don’t think he’ll be a better 5×5 offensive player than Hall or Yak, but that may be due to the position he plays (and the difficulty of it). He could be a ridiculous PP performer.
- That injury was a freaky thing. It has been an issue for a long time. Willis posted this: Nugent-Hopkins has been plagued by shoulder injuries since entering the NHL, missing time twice in his rookie season. The second injury came in just Nugent-Hopkins’ second game back after missing a month to the first one, and at the time assistant coach Steve Smith suggested that Nugent-Hopkins may have aggravated the previous injury. Back in December, Nugent-Hopkins’ shoulder was again in the news, as his status for the World Juniors came into some doubt thanks to another injury – though ultimately Nugent-Hopkins did play, and played well. Krueger’s comments that this won’t be an on-going issue are encouraging, but as this is Nugent-Hopkins’ fourth injury in less than two years it is very much an issue worth keeping an eye on.
- So we may not have seen the full Nuge? Scary, ain’t it?
- Do you like him better than Hall or Yak? This is going to sound weird, but I feel the same way about them as I do about my kids. I couldn’t choose between them, I’m enthralled by their progress and fascinated by their development. This is the fun stuff and it’s especially thrilling because these are true diamonds, perfect cut.
- Why this song? The song I’ve chosen is mysterious, like RNH, and early days, like RNH now, not fully formed but obviously something new and unique. The music is Bowie but not yet the complete Bowie we know now. The style in his voice is close, the music is on the way to Ziggy and it’s absolutely original (as always). It matches Nuge because it’s a mystery and still in its infancy, but packs a tremendous wallop despite being the work of a very young artist.
- Is the lyric about betrayal? No, it’s about personal discovery.
2012-13 NUGE SLEDGEHAMMER
There you have it, friends. Blue skies, nothing but blue skies. The 11-12 is the same quadrant, same blue. It was a horrible experience, losing for losing’s sake, but the prize is breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, we hit the air with a full list of guests and a lot of content to cover. Scheduled to appear:
- Author Gare Joyce will talk about some exciting projects he has coming up, and I’ll ask him about Future Greats and Heartbreaks, one of the best hockey books ever written. Your questions and comments are welcome.
- Harrison Mooney from the Vancouver Sun and Puck Daddy. The Luongo soap opera, can the Canucks win Stanley and I’ll try to get information about Harrison’s new song that’s coming out.
- Mukai Maromo MMA fighter and one tough guy. We’ll talk about his charity work and about invite you to the River Cree Resort and Casino for the first “Heritage Day Classic,” a poker tournament aimed at raising funds for charity, with this year’s focus being the Crystal Kids Foundation.
- Neal Livingston from Tend the Farm. We’ll talk Teemu, the new hires for OKC, and is there any hope for Tyler, Curtis and Ryan.
- Craig Moonen from Krush Performance. Trades and suspensions in mlb. It’s an exciting day!
@Lowetide_ on twitter, 10-1260 via text. Hope you can tune in!