Nugent-Hopkins Seems to Have His Game Back | - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

Nugent-Hopkins Seems to Have His Game Back

There has been some concern over the past few months that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' career has been on sort of a downturn. He had a less than stellar season in 2015-16 and his health has been in question. Some have suggested that maybe 'baby-Nuge' be moved to third-line center and instead, Leon Draisaitl be given some of those prime minutes and a top-six center.

There was so much debate about where he fit, I felt the need to go to bat for Nugent-Hopkins on in an article on the Hockey Writers (another publication I contribute to).
If the coaching staff or management of the Oilers have even considered demoting Nugent-Hopkins, he's not going down without a fight. While it's only been two games, his play at the World Cup of Hockey for team North America has shown that some people may have been too quick to write-off his talents and what be brings to the Oilers on a nightly basis.


Nugent-Hopkins has been all over the ice (in a good way). He's been tenacious on the puck, his first goal being one that he clearly created with his defensive back-checking and determination. He's being relied upon in defensive two-way situations and he looks the part while chipping in on offense — something he'll need to do this year in Edmonton to be successful.


Some people's concern has been with Nuge's ability to win draws. Over the course of his career, he's been an under-50 percent faceoff player. It's an area that needed (still needs) work. Through two games at the World Cup, he's been clearly a different player in the dot and in the second game, won 71 percent of his draws. The really telling part is that he won these draws mostly against Anze Kopitar, who through his career has been one of the NHL's strongest faceoff players.

The Oilers need a strong faceoff center in 2016-17 as none of the charted centers this season are traditionally strong faceoff percentage players.

Continued Play

If Nugent-Hopkins can continue his strong play, he's got cheerleaders who make big decisions with the Oilers right beside him. Oilers coach Todd McClellan is watching his every move as North America team coach and Oilers-GM Peter Chiarelli is also the manager of the North American squad. Strong play by Nuge will mean move opportunities with the Oilers and more production. This is exactly what Nugent-Hopkins needs after a less than ideal 2015-16 NHL season.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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