Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness For RNH

Red Deer Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is bringing it right now. The WHL POW has March Madness with 15 points in 6 games this month. He's racked up 2 hat tricks, a 5 and 4 point game, and he reached the century mark over the weekend. The highest ranked WHL player for the NHL draft has 102 points and sits tied for 3rd in league scoring. RNH has more assists (74) this year than he had points (65) last season.

I've also talked to a number of scouts who think he's playing a lot tougher than he did earlier in the season, which would indicate this is a guy that ratchets up his game when the tough slogging of a stretch drive and playoff begins.

2 NHL GM's, who have a very good chance of ending up in the NHL draft lottery have said they would take the Red Deer Rebel first overall. This I have from a very good and credible scouting source. Another high placed scout thought if RHN reached the 30 goal mark it would be enough to convince whoever has the first overall pick to take him. Right now he's at 28, with 2 games to go (@Edm Fri, Vs. Edm Sat) this season.

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has hinted this season that you can be a little more about drafting for need then simply taking the best player available, and with guys like RNH, Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog or Jonathan Huberdeau there is something for pretty much any need.

If you've never watched Nugent-Hopkins play, or have only seen him a few times he can beat you in several different ways. His release is almost NHL ready, but he prefers to dish out the puck which he does a masterful job of. He went back hand shelf in a big way Sunday vs. the Calgary Hitmen after a terrific move to create some room. The knock on the face off specialist is that he's to slight, which is true...right now. He's 6.0 and 164 lbs according to the WHL which is small, but as Guy put it on our Saturday show, if he's your best small player then big deal. Patrick Kane is 5.10 and 178 pounds. Plus he who knows how much he can bulk up over the next two years. There is nothing that says just because RNH might get taken first overall that he has to play in the NHL this season.

I said after the season opener for Red Deer in Edmonton this year that the Rebels would score more goals off Nugent-Hopkins' rebounds then assists..but that was before I released how good his vision was. Below is a sampling from RHN...from one game...where he notched 6 points.

If you're in Edmonton Friday night, the Rebels are in town, and it's looking right now that Edmonton/Red Deer might be a first round match up. On Saturday we'll also be speaking with an old TPS friend Cam Moon, the voice of the Rebels to recap Friday's tilt, set up the final game of the regular season, look ahead to the playoffs and of course talk more about RNH.


Racki said...

I have to admit, Dean, I was once pretty iffy on whether we should draft RNH... but he sure as heck is putting up a pretty good case right now, isn't he? I can rest assured that if the Oil finish dead last (which they likely will), the lottery won't hurt as at all. Either way, we'll get a fine player. I'll be happy with RNH or Larsson, both of which address needs... and Couturier and Landeskog are likely no slouches either.

It'll be exciting to find out what the Oilers do with LA's pick. I realize we don't want to rush RNH into the NHL if we don't have to, but should we pick him, what do you think the chances are that the Oilers package Gagner and LA's pick to move up significantly?

Dean Millard said...


I think the chances of the Oilers trying to package players and that pick to move up....or get a pro ready prospect, are very high...I think Gagner and Cogliano will be prime candidates for a trade from the Oilers point of view...not sure about other teams..


iain said...

Is a late push from an RNH going to be enough to turn the tide in his favor from pro scouts or are they going to ride it out focusing on the long term picture, i.e. for a guy like Larsson who has been playing at a top level for years but has shown no significant development recently?

I think we have seen that single tournaments or playoffs can make an impact on scout decisions, but what is happening here? It seems in the general consensus sphere of fans RNH is gaining a lot of heat as #1 option. What happened to all of the Couturier/Landeskog love?

Racki said...

iain: I think RNH has had a big share of the limelight too, however, his size was always a big question mark that kept him from hitting #1, from what I can tell. And perhaps scouts are maybe seeing that perhaps that superficial problem can be overcome either by strong work ethic (which it sounds like he's been showing), or good old fashioned "hittin' the gym".

I think Larsson would be a very safe choice. I really hope that by some miracle, the Oilers can swing a deal that lands them both of the top picks. And then we hear that the Oilers pick both RNH and Larsson on draft day.