Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C Red Deer Rebels (OHL)
Born: April 12, 1993 in Burnaby, British Columbia
Strengths: Outstanding skater with explosive burst, top-end speed, excellent lateral agility and superb edgework. Shifty, with quick feet and the ability to accelerate rapidly over short spaces. Elite stickhandler; can make any play at top speed or in traffic when there isn't much time or space. Soft touch on the puck for on-target passes. Can thread the needle through a maze of skates and sticks to hit the open man. Lightning release with a bullet shot that is accurate. Will pick corners at will. Hides his release point well and confounds goalies with his ability to get the puck on net from just about anywhere. Off-the-charts hockey sense- puck follows him around the ice. Always in the middle of the action and makes quick cuts to open up room for his linemates. The most creative player in the draft and a deadly scorer with the man advantage. Makes everyone around him better. Leads by example with his hustle and work ethic. Never quits on the play. Will initiate contact and not afraid to take the hit to make the play. Good character kid- wants to be a leader and has game-breaking ability to put his team on his shoulders at any given time.
Weaknesses:Slight frame and lacking in strength- isn't ever going to be all that big even when he matures, but with his high-end skills and hockey sense, won't be an issue. Production tilted more on the power play than while on 5-on-5- will be interesting to see if it is an ongoing trend with him.
Another nice highlight montage from YanthaCanada on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (YanthaCanada)
NHL.com interview with Nugent-Hopkins (RedMaryKidd876)
Future Considerations on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
(Having trouble uploading combine video on Blogger lately- will try to fix the issue soon)
Style compares to: Matt Duchene
Draft prediction: The No.1 overall pick to Edmonton with a bullet. Elite skill set and hockey sense- can make any play on the 200 x 85 and often makes opponents look silly in the process. There isn't a whole lot to say about this kid that hasn't been said already- he's the top player in this draft with the highest offensive ceiling and is a perfect fit for the Edmonton Oilers, who are in the catbird's seat.
Projection: Top-line center who could turn Taylor Hall into a 50-goal scorer in a few years. Nugent-Hopkins has all the makings of a big league scoring star, but may need at least one more year of junior to better mature and grow. His intent is to play in the NHL right away and he's been gaining weight, so it will be interesting to see how he looks at his first NHL training camp in the fall.
Background: Second of Roger Hopkins and Debbie Nugent's two sons, his brother, Adam, five years his senior. Received 2008 BC Hockey Player of the Year award. Was the first overall selection in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft by Red Deer. Scored 65 points as a rookie, but exploded in his second season finish fourth in the WHL in scoring with 31 goals, 75 assists for 106 points. Led WHL in helpers. Scored gold medal-winning goal at Ivan Hlinka/Eight Nations tourney in Slovakia in Canada's 1-0 win over Team USA. Favorite NHL teams: Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators Favorite player: Sidney Crosby
If Nugent-Hopkins had his own soundtrack it would be: "Savior"- Rise Against
"Not Falling"- Mudvayne
"Controls the flow and pace of the game and knows where everyone is on the ice at all times."- Red Line Report, 2011 Draft Guide (#1 player w/ Most Natural Hockey Sense)
“(Nugent-Hopkins) has very good puck-handling capabilities. His on-ice awareness is very good. He's one of those guys that knows where everyone is and where they should be and where the puck should go . . . He can dish both right or left, either on his backhand or forehand with that kind of vision. But not just the vision, but the fact he can lay that puck between the skate boot and the skate blade -- that's hard to find.”- Central Scouting's Blair McDonald to NHL.com (full profile here)
“A couple of people high up -- and not naming names -- said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99 (Wayne Gretzky). That's the highest compliment you can get. But the other thing is the way he competes. He never takes a night off and he works as hard in his own end as he does in the offensive zone and that takes a special player with a special set of skills to do that.”- Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan to NHL.com
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in his own words:
“It’s been good. It’s been fun. I just go in and try to have fun with it, just enjoy it. I don’t like to be cocky and I don’t like when hockey players get cocky and stuff. Some hockey players in the WHL are pretty cocky. I don’t like cocky people in general. I don’t like when people are very arrogant.”- RNH to Edmonton Journal (for full story, see link below in The Scoop)
"When I first started skating I was two and then I joined hockey when I was four. When I was younger I grew up in Vancouver, and I eventually moved to Burnaby. I used to go public skate a lot with my older brother who played hockey. My dad wanted to get me into hockey but he was always a baseball guy, so he was kind of surprised that I took a liking to hockey more than baseball. Ever since I was four I started playing hockey, and have loved it ever since."- Nugent-Hopkins on how he got his start in hockey to NHL.com (more quotes here)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins profile by David Staples, Edmonton Journal
Nugent-Hopkins ascends to top of draft rankings by Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com