Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, like Shawn Horcoff before him, occupies an important spot in the Oilers organization. Late 20’s, contract extension under discussion, and the things Nuge provides are not easily replaced. How many things does Nuge do today that Shawn Horcoff did at the same age?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
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- Lowetide: Lowetide’s Oilers trade deadline quiz: Test your knowledge
- Lowetide: Scouring the hockey world for a left winger for the Oilers’ skill line
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- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Jonathan Willis: Five questions the Oilers need to answer by the NHL trade deadline
- Lowetide: Carter Savoie’s college season suggests Oilers could have a real goal scoring prospect
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- Lowetide: Oilers’ midseason depth chart informs their needs for trade deadline and beyond
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- Lowetide: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?
- Lowetide: Are the Oilers and Elvis Merzlikins a trade match?
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dominik Kahun, Dylan Holloway and a perfect storm on the Oilers’ left side
- Lowetide: Why Oilers GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait for the deadline to make a trade
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
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- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers improve enough to beat TML it in May?
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2007-08 EDMONTON OILERS FORWARDS
Horcoff was surrounded by talented wingers, but he was the mainstay on the top line. Big minutes in all disciplines (2:46 PK), he (along with Jarret Stoll) was a constant in the middle and late 00’s in Edmonton. He was the only forward to play over 20 minutes a night in 2007-08.
He was productive, as you can see. His linemates were Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky and the trio played the toughs. Horcoff was the vital center. Stoll was getting caved everywhere but the faceoff dot, and his linemates were Penner, Hemsky, Gagner and Raffi Torres. That’s not a checking outfit folks.
Horcoff played in Edmonton through the 2012-13 season, age 33.
I’ve always felt that should be Nuge’s role too, as the one thing Edmonton hasn’t been able to do is keep their best players well into their 30’s. Fans were most unkind to Horcoff in the final years here, but it would have been folly to entrust the tough center minutes to Sam Gagner. He wasn’t going to cover that bet.
The man who took over from Horcoff as the tough minutes center, as the complete forward across all disciplines, was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
2020-21 EDMONTON OILERS FORWARDS
Nuge has a better PP number than Horcoff and also plays significant minutes on the PK(1:59) but at this point is so far removed from Horcoff’s job (No. 1 center) he’ll never get back there.
Nuge’s utility on the skill lines give him much of his value in my opinion. He can PK, and work the PP, and play center or wing and doesn’t bitch. The thing about signing him though is that the bloom is off the rose offensively. This is predictable, we know that the late 20’s and 30’s brings on some offensive erosion. Let’s compare Horcoff to Nuge through age 27 and then run Horcoff’s numbers afterward. Horcoff’s numbers first, then Nuge. These are even-strength points-per-60:
- Age 18: (–), 1.93
- Age 19: (–), 1.25
- Age 20: (–), 1.67
- Age 21: 2.25, 1.99
- Age 22: 1.90, 1.62
- Age 23: 1.99, 1.66
- Age 24: 1.54, 2.40
- Age 25: (–), 1.93
- Age 26: 2.44, 2.30
- Age 27: 1.52, 1.31
- Age 28: 2.52
- Age 29: 1.67
- Age 30: 1.30
- Age 31: 1.42
- Age 32: 1.11
- Age 33: 1.31
You can see injuries and lockouts over the years, Nuge’s bell curve began much earlier and he peaks 24-26. I think Nuge is a better player than Horcoff was, and he’ll have a great player on his line (Horcoff didn’t always have Hemsky and McDavid-Draisaitl is a cheat code). How much do you want to pay for that kind of future even strength offense? It’s not an easy answer, ladies.
I wanted to take a moment and talk about the year past and the one ahead. It has been so difficult for everyone, we need to acknowledge the life-altering 12 months just past, and the impact it had on us. We’ll talk about “the Covid” like my Dad talked about “the war” or “the depression” and it has changed us. I can feel it, see it in my restless children.
Just like when they were little, and about to run into traffic (seemed to be a family hobby for a time), there’s been some “holding back” in this house. For all of us. We are healthy, we are fine, we have had some scares and we are going to have restaurant meals often when this is over.
There is a new strain, actually more than one, that makes things even more dangerous and this time young people are included in the worry. Now is the time to redouble your efforts, do all the things that make you safe, and stay the course. I’m on a list for the shot, hope to get the call any day now. Mrs. Lowetide too. We’ll get through this together, and then we’ll talk about it forever. Things have changed. Please, please be careful, even if you think I’m crazy, I’ll plead guilty if you wear a mask, socially distance and follow the rules. I don’t want to say goodbye to you.