It’s so important to remember that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is just getting started. He is a very young man still growing into his role as an NHL player, not yet mature. Nuge doesn’t look like Taylor Hall, who seems to looked more rugged by the hour. Nuge looks like one of my son’s friends—doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, doesn’t say too much, probably really good at video games and saying “I don’t know” a lot.
In the RE series the other day, I wrote
- This is the Nuge’s third season, and he’s recovered nicely from the injury-riddled sophomore campaign. He’s off the pace I projected, for me the reasons are twofold: the power play hasn’t been as good as we thought it would be, and Nuge may not be the offensive player we had hoped for when he was selected. Still miles to go, but his scoring is off projections by 22 points. He may not be a top flight offensive center when all is written.
Let’s test that, shall we? How does Nuge compare to other kids of recent vintage at the same age? Hockey-reference tells us he’s doing just fine. His .74/point-per-game run in his first three years (beginning at 18) shows him in the range with Taylor Hall, Patrice Bergeron, Marian Gaborik and some other brilliant hockey players. He’s in very nice territory. My statement “he may not be a top flight offensive center when all is written” may end up being true, but I don’t believe we can tell from here. When you consider his second season (injury filled, ineffective) then Nuge’s number might be closer to Toews with good health.
Please baby Jesus.
Chicago brought Toews in so wonderfully. Centermen on the Hawks with Toews in his rookie season included Dave Bolland, Yanic Perreault, Robert Lang and Patrick Sharp. Holy hell what a position of strength. I wonder if the Oilers should try to get a real upgrade on Gagner—looking for a Bergeron-Krejci west—and turn a position of weakness into a strength.
Trying to catch a sunbeam in a basket. Heh. An unusual turn of phrase, but Keon was elusive and maddening in the same way as Nugent-Hopkins can be already. I keep thinking on Nuge as a modern Keon—the great Maple Leaf was a complete player though shy of Toews-level offensively—but RNH is his own man and comparisons shouldn’t overwhelm the unwritten script. Nugent-Hopkins may well be Keon’s equal without the puck, and his superior with it—we shall have to wait and see.