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Saturday, February 5, 2011

CHL roundup: Here comes the 'Nuge

No, we're talking the HOCKEY version of the 'Nuge, not the Motorcity Madman thank you. This is the guy we want to focus on today:

Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is well on his way to securing a top-three draft position if he hasn't already after tallying a hat trick and adding three helpers to the tune of six points in an 8-1 drubbing of the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday. Neate Sager's outstanding Buzzing the Net blog has the video evidence here, so check it out.

The offensive outburst now gives RNH 19 goals and 79 points in 52 games and is part of a recent string of production that is starting to put NHL minds at ease after he took the first half of the season to net just 10 markers. In his last three games, Nugent-Hopkins has put up 12 points to the tune of 5 goals, 7 assists.

"Nobody doubted the skill and explosiveness but the numbers weren't there," said one NHL scout recently. "He's a goal scorer who wasn't scoring, so while we don't make it a business of focusing on the statistics, it was a topic of conversation with him."

RNH is an explosive skater who has multiple gears and can attack defenses with his pure speed, or dangle with his excellent lateral mobility and superb, dare I say elite puckhandling skills. He's a sniper who can put the puck anywhere he wants and with the shots finding the back of the net at absolutely the right time, his stock will only go up. On the down side is his very average size and rail-thin frame, but like most youngsters, he'll make some progress as he continues an elite athlete training regimen to help get him where he needs to go in his physical development.

"I'd say it is much better for him to have had some scoring issues early in the season," the scout said. "Because right now, he's lighting it up. When you watch him he's involved, dangerous and getting rewarded for his efforts. Those are the impressions that are going to stay with you when you go into the draft process, not what he did back in the fall."

RNH's six-point outburst was matched by teammate Andrej Kudrna, who scored once and added five helpers. That gives the left winger from Slovakia 24 goals and 66 points on the season. Of course, as a '91 birthdate and undrafted prospect, Kudrna's production is not as impressive as that of his 17-year-old counterpart (RNH turns 18 in April).

Here's an interesting video the guys at Future Considerations did on him recently:

Check out Red Deer coach Jesse Wallin's comment at a little over the 1 minute mark when he uses the names Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Fedorov to create a mental image of RNH's skating ability.

For more on Burnaby, B.C. native Nugent-Hopkins, go over to the labels tab to the right of the main page and click on his name to bring up the blog archive on all posts done on him to date.


Gabriel Landeskog is back and playing with the Kitchener Rangers for the first time since just after Christmas when he suffered a high ankle sprain against Norway in Sweden's first game of the WJC. He had a modest assist Friday in his team's 6-3 come-from-behind win over the Plymouth Whalers, but the mere sight of No. 92 out on the ice has to make Rangers fans very happy. It will be interesting to see if and how the sprain, one of the most difficult injuries to come back from in hockey (at least to previous levels of effectiveness until fully healed) affects his production. Tobias Rieder had a goal and an assist, while Ryan Murphy didn't register on the scoresheet.

Plymouth had several draft eligibles going in the game: Stefan Noesen tallied once, pushing his totals to 25 goals and 56 points (51 GP) while Garrett Meurs added a helper in what has been a disappointing year. Rickard Rakell did not have any production for the Whale.

Shane Prince made a nice return to the Ottawa 67's lineup after missing the last couple of weeks with an injured shoulder. He scored a goal in a 6-2 win over the Peterborough Petes, and his line of Tyler Toffoli (Kings) and Ryan Martindale (Oilers) picked up a total of 4 goals and 7 points. Prince has 22 goals, 77 points on 47 games for the season, but still isn't getting the kind of NHL draft respect some feel he deserves.


Yes, we're actually talking about the Saint John Sea Dogs again. Starting to sound like a broken record, but when you're the best team in the CHL and you have as many 2011 draft prospects as they do, well-- you're going to be a constant topic of conversation.

This time, they dismantled the Moncton Wildcats to the tune of 11 goals in a 11-2 shellacking.

Tomas Jurco (Tomashh Yur-tcho)had a hat trick, although it looks as two of those tallies came at garbage time. Jonathan Huberdeau added two more tallies to extend his monster season and Zack Phillips had three assists, which is nice to see from the guy who is more of a goal scorer than playmaker. Huberdeau has 33 goals and 77 points in 50 games for the Sea Dogs. He's also a +46. Jurco now has 25 goals and 44 points in 43 contests to go over a PPG for the first time in a while.

Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was also a +3 on the night with an assist to push his season totals to 10 goals, 37 points and a +36 in 50 games. As far as two-way threats from the blue line go, Beaulieu is one of the more intriguing options in this class. He's pretty tough, too- you wouldn't know it by looking at the PIMs, but when he gets fired up, he can uncork some pretty rapid powerful rights. Just ask Chicoutimi's Alexandre Roy. If you want to know about which I speak, then go here.

Well, that's a wrap on the CHL roundup.

I'm off to Delbarton Green Wave and Seton Hall Prep today in Jersey and will check back in at some point to offer up thoughts, although the level of competition is quite a step down (putting it very mildly) from what I got used to at the WJC and OHL back in Dec./Jan.


  1. I have to think Nathan Beaulieu is a lock for the top 10?


  2. Wouldn't say he's a lock, but the funny thing about the NHL draft is that all it takes is for one team picking there to love a player's game and upside enough and that's precisely what could happen.