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Behind The Bench: Ryan-Nugent Hopkins

by on 09/05/2011

Vitals

Born:  Burnaby, BC, CAN
Birth date: April 12, 1993
Height: 6’0” (184 cm)
Weight: 180 lbs (81 kg)
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
NHL Draft: 1st Overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2011
NHL Team: Edmonton Oilers
Jersey No.:  #93
National Team: Canada
NHL Contract: 13/14
Cap Hit: $3,775,000

History

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, known as RNH and The Nuge, played most of his minor hockey career with the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins while attending Burnaby North Secondary, home to hockey greats, Cliff Ronning and Joe Sakic. The Nuge was named captain of the Bruins during the 2007-08 season, the same year he was drafted 1st overall by the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL Bantam Draft. He spent the 2008-09 season, the final year of his minor hockey career, with the Vancouver NW Giants. He finished his minor hockey career with several accolades, including being named the 2008 BC Minor Hockey Player of the year. The Nuge finished the 2008-09 season making his WHL debut with the Rebels as an underage player, he played in 5 games and scored 2 goals with 4 assists, for 6 points.

The Nuge played 67 games during the 2009-10 WHL season and scored 24 goals and 41 assists for 65 points. For his stellar rookie season, he was awarded the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy for the WHL Rookie of the Year. He was also a finalist for the CHL Rookie of the Year award but lost to Peterborough Petes, left winger, Matt Puempel.

Prior to the start of the 2010-11 WHL season, RNH helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Team Canada was undefeated throughout the tournament. RNH co-led the team in scoring with Matt Puempel with 7 points each. Back in the WHL, RNH played in 69 regular season games for the Rebels and tallied 31 goals and 75 assists, good for 106 points. RNH lead the league in assists and was tied for third in WHL scoring with Mark Stone, and only Linden Vey (116) and Tyler Johnson (115) had more points than RNH. The Nuge also played in 9 playoff games for the Rebels and tallied 11 points. Shane McColgan is the only player to tally more points than RNH in fewer games. McColgan tallied 19 points in 10 games. RNH was also one of several players to be invited to Team Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp but failed to impress and was cut from the team.

On June 24, 2011, RNH was selected first overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. On July 2, 2011, he signed a three-year NHL entry level contract. Since signing with the Oilers, RNH has been busy gaining weight in an effort to ready himself for the NHL, as well as participating in several events such as the NHLPA rookie showcase and Team Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp, the Red vs. White game

Talent Analysis

The Nuge possesses all the skills to succeed at the NHL level. He has great hockey sense, vision and patience with the puck. He is a very creative playmaker and  is arguably the best passer in his draft class. RNH possesses great anticipation which allows him to be the type of playmaker that can make something out of nothing.  RNH is an adept passer and can set up linemates with ease but he can also put the puck in the net himself. He has a good, accurate shot that can surprise some goalies because of his ability to pass the puck. RNH is a center that is very good at skating and has good speed with excellent acceleration. He is more than capable of beating defenders 1-on-1. There is a lot of talk about RNH’s offensive abilities but he is just as effective in his own zone. The Nuge plays a very complete two-way game, whether his two-way game translates to the NHL is yet to be seen.

The only problem the general populace seems to have with The Nuge is his size. Many feel that RNH does not have the “ideal” size to be effective at the highest level. While he could stand to bulk up a little more to withstand the constant pounding at the NHL level, he is a very shifty player and can be very difficult to hit. There are several NHL players, past and present, that have shown that you don’t need to be the “ideal” size to be effective at the NHL level.

RNH is the type of player that can make those around him better and is exactly the type of player you want to build a franchise around.

Future

If The Nuge makes the team this coming season, expect him to spend lots of time on the first line and on the first unit power play. He’ll be given lots of leeway to make mistakes and to adapt to the pro level under Tom Renney. Baring any injuries, RNH should be expected to put up at least 60 points in his rookie season. Expect RNH and Gabriel Landeskog to be neck and neck all season long for the Calder Trophy.

The Nuge has all the skills and abilities to be a franchise center for Edmonton and is likely to meet those expectations. He will be 1/3 of the Oilers’ future top line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Expect him to exceed 100 points more than once in his career.

He is still a few years away from dominating the game and will need at least two years before he breaks 80 points.

NHL Highlights

  • 2010-11 Drafted 1st overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Career Highlights

  • 2007-08 Western Canada Bantam Championships MVP
  • 2007-08 Drafted 1st overall in the WHL Bantam Draft
  • 2008-09 Named Captain of the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins
  • 2008-09 BC Minor Hockey Player of the Year
  • 2008-09 Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament MVP
  • 2009-10 Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
  • 2009-10 CHL All-Rookie Team
  • 2009-10 CHL Rookie of the Year finalist
  • 2010 Subway Super Series (WHL) – Forward
  • 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament Gold Medal
  • 2010-11 CHP Top Draft Prospect Award
  • WHL (EAST) First All-Star Team
  • WHL Most Assists (75)

Career Stats

BCMML: 36 GP, 40 G, 47 A, 87 Pts
BCMML Playoffs:
5 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 Pts
WHL:
141 GP, 57 G, 120 A, 177 Pts
WHL Playoffs: 13 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 Pts
WHC-17:
5 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 Pts


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