Tag:Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Posted on: August 4, 2011 10:32 am
  •  
 

Daily Skate: Marchand talks heat; Queens option

By Brian Stubits

LET'S MAKE A DEAL: Now that everybody is starting to come down from their Stanley Cup highs in Boston, the Bruins and Brad Marchand are getting down to business. The rookie was solid last season but really broke out in the postseason and now he's a restricted free agent, but thus far next to no work has been done on getting him a new contract. But according to ESPN Boston, the sides are beginning to talk and are taking steps toward reaching each other's goal: keeping Marchand in a B's sweater for a lot longer.

ALL HAIL THE QUEENS: When discussing the future of the Islanders, I discussed a lot of future homes for the team if it leaves Nassau County. I neglected to mention the borough of Queens because once upon a time the deal seemed to be in partnership with Jeff Wilpon, the Mets owner who has seen wealth diminish since being caught in the Bernie Madoff scandal. But it's clearly still an option, and a very viable one at that. Whenever/if Charles Wang decides to move on from Nassau, he would be wise to approach Queens about a new home right next to Citi Field and the U.S. Tennis Center. The borough would certainly be receptive (Via Islanders Point Blank).

NUGENT-HOPKINS' DREAM SEASON: Goal No. 1 for the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is to make the Oilers roster. If he does, he would love it if the team would loan him to Canada's National Junior squad around Christmas time. After not making the roster for the national team in 2010, RNH tells the Edmonton Journal that he'd love to get a shot to represent his country.

KRONWALL'S TASK: The Red Wings took to rebuilding their defensive corps this offseason, partly because of retirement. The team lost Brian Rafalski to the world or relaxation and now will have to find a way to offset his loss. That could be the job of Niklas Kronwall to step in and play major minutes. The Detroit Free Press looks at his role in Detroit for next season. All I know is that more minutes means more chances for opponents to be Kronwalled.

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

Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:45 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 3:21 pm
 

NHL Draft Top 10: Nugent-Hopkins No. 1

Perhaps this year's draft doesn't have the same excitement as years past. Perhaps it might not have the true superstar potential others have had. Taylor vs. Tyler? No doubt about Stamkos? There just isn't the same kind of buzz.

It took until recently for the top prospect to really establish himself as such, and that's Ryan Nugent- Hopkins. Perhaps the reason the excitement about him as the top prospect isn't as high as it has been for others in recent years is the way in which he plays. You don't figure him to be a guy like Stamkos who comes out and by the time he's old enough to drink alcohol is one of the leading lamp-lighters in the NHL.

"I'm more of playmaker. I like to score and if I'm on my game, I can do that," Nugent-Hopkins told CBSSports.com in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals. "I'm definitely more of a pass-first type of player."

So the guy might not play the game exactly like one of his heroes, Maurice "Rocket" Richard. So what? I'm stating the obvious here, but you don't have to score to be an impact player on offense.

The biggest knock he has had to overcome, though, has been his size and people wondering if he'll be durable enough to handle playing center in the NHL.

"I definitely need to gain some weight and put some muscle on," Nugent-Hopkins said. "Seeing these [NHL] guys in the hall, they’re all men. They are all big guys. I need to put some weight on and work on every aspect of my game."

What that criticism fails to mention, however, is his great skating ability, elusiveness and defensive responsibility.

"His vision, his creativity, his intelligence and his understanding of the game, and the skill package that goes with it is what make him so special," said Jesse Wallin, his coach and VP of hockey operations for the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. "He's got tremendous hands and passing ability, he's got a great release, he's a great skater, he's got tremendous agility ... it's just a really special package and a personality and makeup that allows him to utilize that skill set."

Just because there hasn't been a headlining story for the draft doesn't mean it doesn't have a headliner. Nugent-Hopkins fits that bill, and he thinks he would be a pretty good fit with the team picking No. 1.

"I think I can help [the Oilers] in the rebuilding stage that they're in. If I got drafted there, I could definitely learn a lot from all of them."

And we'll learn a lot more about him.

(Shameless plug: Join A.J. Perez and I with our live draft chat on Friday evening. The draft begins at 7 ET from St. Paul, Minn.)

1. C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6-0/177, Red Deer (WHL): Before the combine a couple weeks ago, there were doubts about Nugent-Hopkins as the best overall player because of his size. That was until he surprised scouts by coming in heavier than expected. "For the past few years, it's been tough to put weight on. I think I'm starting to mature more now. I'm filling out a little more. I put on six pounds this summer. I think I finally started putting some weight on," Nugent-Hopkins told CBSSports.com. He is the true definition of a play-making center, leading the WHL in assists last season with 75 while scoring 31 goals for the Rebels. NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan had this to day: "A couple of people high up -- and not naming names -- said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99." How about that for pressure? Oh, and he's really fast. Yes, there's a reason why he's everybody's No. 1. Player profile

2. C Jonathan Huberdeau, 6-1/170, Saint John (QMJHL): Has already been drafted once this year -- sixth overall in the KHL draft in May. Needless to say, he's not going to report. That's because Huberdeau is one of the elite prospects available. Understanding Nugent-Hopkins is the top prospect, I have a hunch Huberdeau could be the best player down the line. He's a player that is seen as a center, but could possibly play left wing at the next level. He became the face of Saint John's run to the Memorial Cup, setting new club records in points (105) and assists (62) that went along with 43 goals and a league-high plus-59. When asked by CBSSports.com what he has been focusing on, Huberdeau answered: "Consistency. I want to be more consistent in my game. My skating, my speed, I want to get better at. I have been working on that all season long. I work on everything. Nobody is perfect, so you have to work on all the areas." Player profile

3. LW Gabriel Landeskog, 6-0/207, Kitchener (OHL): It seems pretty clear Landeskog is the top winger available, and he might also be the most NHL-ready player in the draft. His upside might not be as high as some other skaters in the draft, but the ceiling is still great and he figures to be a very good scorer in little time. Playing for the Rangers of the OHL, Landeskog had 36 goals and 30 assists in 53 games. His leadership qualities stand out, too, as he was the youngest to be named captain for Kitchener in 30 years. He draws comparisons to Mike Richards, who also played for Kitchener. "I'm a hard-working two-way player. I think I can play on all situations on the ice. That's who I am," Landeskog told CBSSports.com. Player profile

4. D Adam Larsson, 6-3/200, Skelleftea (Sweden): The near-consensus top defenseman available, and we're not going to disagree. He has great size and moves very well, too. He isn't a guy guy who will give you a lot of scoring, but he does do a good job of moving the puck up top. In 37 games this season, he had just one goal and eight assists, but the team that picks him won't be looking for much offense. Not to say he can't develop more of an offensive game, but right now his strength lies in defense. Player highlights

5. C Sean Couturier, 6-4/197, Drummondville (QMJHL): He has fallen down the boards some since being the preseason favorite as the top prospect. He has faced criticism for his less-than ideal speed and explosiveness. Couturier was still good enough this season to be named the QMJHL's MVP over Huberdeau after a 36-goal, 60-assist campaign. One thing that scouts love in addition to his size is his defensive abilities as he is a true two-way player. He will still be a highly coveted player with a big frame already. Player profile

6. D Dougie Hamilton, 6-4/187, Niagara (OHL): Impressed folks at the combine with his stature, Hamilton is a guy with a ton of potential to help a blue line for a long time. He is very capable of handling the puck and according to his OHL coach Marty Williamson: "When he sees those opportunities to jump into the rush or lead the rush, I believe it's untapped what he can do." His 12 goals and 46 assists in 67 games show he would bring a lot of value to a power-play unit. "I think I'm a complete guy, so I don't really have any weaknesses that stand out. I just want to improve on everything. At this point, I want to get stronger," Hamilton told CBSSports.com. Player profile

7. C Ryan Strome, 6-1/175, Niagara (OHL): Along the line of Nugent-Hopkins and Huberdeau, he is a playmaker, as he displayed by posting 33 goals and 73 assists in 65 games for Niagara, and being named the OHL East's best playmaker by coaches. Strome is also a guy willing to get physical and into the tough spots, showing a nice ability to wield the stick on tip-in opportunities. To further see how well he can handle the hockey stick, just watch this sick goal -- he just might be the best scorer of all the centers available. Player profile

8. D Ryan Murphy, 5-10/166, Kitchener (OHL): There are people worried about his small stature, but he's a guy who can play. He's probably the best offensive defenseman available, as evidenced by his 26 goals and 53 assists in 63 games for the Rangers. He is very good with the puck, but perhaps has the ability to be too creative as he has to watch the turnovers. Regardless, he would fit nicely at the point with the man up. Skates very well too, always a plus to have on the blue line. Player profile

9. LW Sven Baertschi, 5-10/181, Portland (WHL): Put up great numbers as a rookie in the WHL, leading the league's freshmen with 85 points -- 34 goals and 51 assists -- while demonstrating great vision on the ice. He's the kind of guy teams love because of his work ethic. Per Portland coach Mike Johnston: "Quick, skilled, very fast type of player. ... I don't think anyone can stay on the ice as long as he does. We have to tell him to get off the ice 45 minutes after practice ends. He stays out there forever to work on his game. He works on inside-outside moves, quick shots and little foot movement."

10. D Nathan Beaulieu, 6-2/174, St. John (QMJHL): Beaulieu is enjoying a rise as the draft draws near thanks largely to the Sea Dogs winning the Memorial Cup with his plus-44 on the year. In 21 postseason games, he had 16 points (4G, 12A) after a 12-33-35 regular season. He is a defenseman that thinks offense, so he does have some improving to do on the defensive end. According to his QMJHL coach Gerard Gallant: "He's gotten better, bigger and stronger, he's playing a lot better defensively." Player profile

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:32 pm
 

NHL Draft positional rankings: Centers

If your favorite team is in the market for a good young center (and who isn't?) then this year is for you. The cream of the NHL Draft crop can be spotted in dotted spots.

Everybody has pretty much settled on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being the best player in the draft, but it took a long time to come to that conclusion because there are more than a couple of guys who were in that conversation, two of the others also being centers.

Point is, if you aren't picking first (and unless you are Edmonton -- or possibly Florida as, trade rumors speculate -- you aren't) don't worry, there is plenty of talent to be had up the middle.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6'0/177, Red Deer (WHL): Before the combine a couple weeks ago, there were doubts about Nugent-Hopkins as the best overall player because of his size. That was until he surprised scouts by coming in 13 pounds heavier than expected. He is the true definition of a play-making center, leading the WHL in assists last season with 75 while scoring 31 goals for the Rebels. NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan had this to day: "A couple of people high up -- and not naming names -- said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99." How about that for pressure? Oh, and he's really fast. Yes, there's a reason why he's everybody's No. 1.

2. Jonathan Huberdeau, 6'1/170, Saint John (QMJHL): Has already been drafted once this year, being selected sixth overall in the KHL draft in May. Needless to say, he's not going to report. That's because Huberdeau is one of the elite prospects available. He's a player that is seen as a center, but could possibly play left wing at the next level. He became the face of Saint John's run to the Memorial Cup, setting new club records in points (105) and assists (62) that went along with 43 goals and a league-high plus-59. Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau says "He definitely has NHL hands and playmaking ability." Sounds about right.

3. Sean Couturier, 6'4/197, Drummondville (QMJHL): He has fallen down the boards some since being the preseason favorite as the top prospect, facing criticism for his less-than ideal speed and explosiveness. Couturier was still good enough this season to be named the QMJHL's MVP over Huberdeau after a 36-goal, 60-assist campaign. One thing that scouts love in addition to his size is his defensive abilities as he is a true two-way player. He will still be a highly coveted player with a big frame already. Player profile

4. Ryan Strome, 6'1/175, Niagara (OHL): Along the line of Nugent-Hopkins and Huberdeau, he is a playmaker, posting 33 goals and 73 assists in 65 games for Niagara, being named the OHL East's best playmaker by coaches. Strome is also a guy willing to get physical and into the tough spots, showing a nice ability to wield the stick on tip-in opportunities. To further see how well he can handle the hockey stick, just watch this sick goal -- he just might be the best scorer of all the centers available. Player profile

5. Mika Zibanejad, 6'2/190, Djurgarden (Sweden): Already possessing the size many teams look for in a center, Zibanejad is a physical force who is hard to knock off the puck and is a big-time hitter (see!). His production in the Swedish Elite League wasn't much (five goals, four assists in 26 games) -- but that's good for a teenager in that league. He popped onto many radars with his five goals and four assists in just six games at the World U-17s. He's the type of player about whom you will hear such superlatives as "high-motor guy" and "plays the right way." Player highlights

6. Mark McNeill, 6'2/201, Prince Albert (WHL): McNeill is not the most physically gifted center available, but he is one of the centers who plays tough at both ends of the ice. He saw a massive jump in his numbers from last season to this, when he scored 32 goals with 49 assists in 70 games, up from 24 points the season before. But that can easily be chalked up to maturing more as a player. One intriguing aspect is that he's a right-handed center, something a lot of teams could use. Player highlights

7. Zack Phillips, 6'1/178, Saint John (QMJHL): Yet another Sea Dog to make it on one of the prospect lists, is it any wonder Saint John won the Memorial Cup? A linemate of Huberdeau, Phillips has enough skills to have distinguished himself on a stacked team. According to coach Gerard Gallant: "Zack has great vision and is strong on the puck. He's a solid center and has come a long way in a short time. He kind of reminds me of an Adam Oates-type of player." Not bad. Stats wise, he had 38 goals and 57 assists in 67 regular-season games. Player highlights

8. Vladislav Namestnikov, 6'0/166, London (OHL): The Russian native led the way for the Knights with 30 goals this season, his first in the OHL. He projects at a center but could end up playing on the outside. At this point, he doesn't quite have the size you'd look for out of a centerman. According to Central Scouting's Jack Edwards: "Vlad plays a high-energy, two-way game he's very aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck and has the ability to beat defenders outside and cut back to the net. He has an excellent wrist shot that he can release with accuracy on the rush." Player profile

9. Boone Jenner, 6'1/204, Oshawa (OHL): Jenner is one of those players that doesn't really do anything great but does everything well. He does the stuff that earns him the labels like gritty -- forechecking and backchecking well, blocking shots, going into heavy traffic, etc. Leading a line featuring two other draft prospects, he scored 25 goals and had 41 assists in 63 games. He might not be a top-line center in the NHL, but that doesn't mean he won't be a reliable and good player for a long time. Player highlights

10. Shane Prince, 5'10/174, Ottawa (OHL): Hailing from Upstate New York, Prince hardly passes the sniff test with his smaller stature. But what he lacks there he makes up for in his speed as he flies on the ice. He clearly has good vision and knows what to do with the puck, racking up 63 assists and 25 goals in 59 games this season. “I've been doubted my whole life, from day one. I was either too small -- I was a bit of a late-bloomer -- and I've seemed to prove those people wrong my whole life," Prince says. Not exactly Rudy, but he's got a bit of American bulldog in him (just watch the highlights, fights and all). Player highlights

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 20, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 12:14 am
 

Oilers open to offers for No. 1 pick; Avs set

You might remember last year when the Oilers had the top pick in the draft that the debate was Taylor or Tyler? Before the Oilers ultimately settled on Taylor Hall, there was talk they wanted to get the second pick from the Bruins and not have to make the decision, just grab them both.

Well, this time it seems Oilers GM Steve Tambellini would be willing to trade out of the top spot.

"I've had a few calls of people kicking the tires of how they can help me make the Oilers a better team," Tambellini told reporters. "For me to move the No. 1 pick would have to be something exceptional. This is a huge building block again."

OK, so it doesn't seem as if he's actively looking to move down, but that he's more than willing to listen. If the Oilers stay where they are, they are expected to select center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at No. 1. But there are four or five guys that are in the conversation for the top pick. So perhaps Tambellini would feel more than comfortable taking one of the guys next in line if he gets a good deal in return.

After Edmonton is Colorado at No. 2, and Adrian Dater of the Denver Post says the Avs know exactly what they're doing with the pick already.

Again, with the assumption that Nugent-Hopkins will be off the board, Colorado will have its choice on either top defenseman Adam Larsson or on a host of forwards, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Gabriel Landeskog and Sean Couturier. Huberdeau seems to be the likely choice, according to Dater.

The NHL Draft is Friday in St. Paul, Minn. and this week we will be rolling out our top players at each position as well as team needs leading up to draft night when we will have a live chat to discuss the goings-on in Minnesota.

-- Brian Stubits

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com