Blog Entry

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 4:13 pm

By Brian Stubits

Looks like the Edmonton Oilers came to their senses after all. Either that or they just wanted to leave the hockey world in suspense.

The Oilers informed the top overall draft pick from this summer, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, that he will be staying with the team instead of going back to his junior team just down the road from Edmonton in Red Deer. His next game will be his 10th with the Oilers, the extent of the pre-contract tryout.

"He knows the spotlight has been on him and will continue to be, but he went out there and did what he's always done," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said.

Last week the Oilers said they were still strongly considering sending Nugent-Hopkins back and giving him more seasoning in junior hockey. However I'm not sure how many people bought that. Nugent-Hopkins has been nothing but spectacular this season.

He is the team's top scorer with five goals -- including a hat trick -- and nine points. Can you imagine the justification Edmonton brass would have given for sending Nugent-Hopkins back? It surely couldn't be about not being ready to play at the NHL level.

Teammate Ryan Whitney shared everybody's thoughts on the matter.

"The Nuge is staying in NHL huh? What a shocker. In other news, sky is blue, grass is green and it's going to be cold in Edmonton in January."

This means that we will get to see a lot more of the Kids & the Hall line with the top pick two years ago Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. As a whole, the Oilers have 48 points. Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle have combined for 26 of those, including 10 of the team's 17 goals. Perhaps the most amazing thing about that line is that Eberle is the elder statesman at 21 years old.

"Taylor and Jordan have been amazing mentors for me," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I'm thrilled that I get to keep playing with those guys."

"The Nuge" -- I admit, I cringe when I type that, but it's just so much more convenient than Nugent-Hopkins -- did have some proving to do as his size was the question, but those questions should be gone. That was the only question to answer, and he nailed it.

Welcome to your NHL career, Nugent-Hopkins. It goes without saying this was the right choice.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Since: Oct 29, 2011
Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:05 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:36 pm

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

Was Tallon setting up his young guys up for success?
Absolutely not, he had them on a trainwreck trajectory.    That team was an absolute mess, with a bunch of talented players, and a rookie coach.   Fortunately new ownership (Bill Wirtz died that fall) brought in some new personel into the front office immediately and they had developed some management infrastructure to right the ship by the end of the 2008 season.    New coaches, new "advisors" like Scotty Bowman, and new front office and hockey operations staff were more to blame for the turnaround.   
how much veteran leadership did that team, with rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, have? Robert Lang? Brent Sopel?
Don't forget Khabibulan (cup TB) Kevyn Adams (cup CAR), and Lapointe (Det 2 cups).    I think they had much more veteran leadership (team captains and such from more organizations that one) in 2008 than EDM has now, but that still doesn't mean that it was enough when he was dressing 7-12 skaters a night with less than 150 NHL games under their belt.   It was trashing their development in some cases and not doing any real good in others with a number of players.   It was throwing stuff to a wall and seeing what sticks.  

I think the situation is worse in EDM now than it was in CHI in 2008, but EDM has more high-end talent.    &nbs
p; Ryan Smyth hasn't won anything and he hasn't been a lockerroom leader for a prolonged playoff run (maybe he was more influential than I thought in 06).
I think the Oilers will be just fine with the leadership they have in that dressing room.
I hope so, but it takes a bunch of years to change a culture in a franchise, EDM has a ton of changes to make.    I don't think the infrastructure is there in the lockerroom or front office to push the team to the next level without doing more long term damage than good.   Just an opinion.    I love the talent in EDM, but I don't like how the team is built or dressed the last few years.  

Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: October 28, 2011 8:12 pm

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

@hockeybob, Ryan Smyth - how much more veteran can you get? And lets not forget how young your 07-08 Blackhawks were (you are a fan, right?) - how much veteran leadership did that team, with rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, have? Robert Lang? Brent Sopel? Was Tallon setting up his young guys up for success? No Bob, I think the Oilers will be just fine with the leadership they have in that dressing room. And with all that talent they will be very tough in a year or two (if not this year).

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 28, 2011 6:45 pm

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

Too many young studs playing without healthy veteran leadership to keep them from developing more bad habits.   Broke blueline and an unreliable goalie means they are putting another very high pick in a ridiculous situation.    It's one thing to let a guy get NHL experience, but it's another to expect them to really develop or improve on techniques or technical deficiencies in game situations.   Since Tambellini wasn't willing to set these young guys up for success, he should have just sent RNH down.  It was unlikely he would go down from the beginning, but it's still a bad idea imo, and I don't care what his stats are.  

If they're a playoff team, I'll take back the criticism.

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2011 6:27 pm

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

Now that they have Khabibulin not stressing out about jail time and far better younger players the Oilers should make the play-offs on the lower-tier of the standings.  Thankfully they finally got rid of Cogliano, no more over-rated high picks is a good thing.

Since: Dec 15, 2010
Posted on: October 28, 2011 5:05 pm

No surprise: Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Oilers

i think it goes without saying that with this one official move (barring a major injury of course), Edmonton has assured themselves damn close to a .500 record this season and possibly relevence (though probably not success) in the division and playoff-picture. Its still early i know, but the way that young line in playing, the excellent goaltending and the stregnth of the teams they've beaten (Pitt, Van, Was, NYR), they've been in close games all season and are 2 shootout saves from being 7-2 and one of the best in the NHL this year. The true test of this team will come in early November when they have a 6-game road trip against LA, PHO, MON, BOS, DET and CHI...and i expect this team to pass that test against some of the NHL's consistantly top teams.

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