In Edmonton’s 2-1 shootout victory to open the 2011-12 season, rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins didn’t just have a strong game, he was dominating. He scored the crucial tieing goal late in the game, but more than that, of the Oilers’ 18 scoring chances, RNH made significant contributions to 12 of them, an astounding total.
Probably a safe pick to grab if still available in your league. His center-only position is the only thing that may hurt his immediate fantasy hockey value.
Coach Renney confirms this morning that Nugent-Hopkins will indeed start the season with the #Oilers
RNH starts the year on a nine-game tryout. If he sticks for the full season, there is no reason to believe he cant match the 22 goals and 42 points Taylor Hall put up last season.
If Red Deer Rebels’ coach Jesse Wallin was holding to a faint hope that Nugent-Hopkins could be back in his No. 9 sweater with the Western Hockey League junior team, he can probably forget it, at least for the start of the Oilers season with Sam Gagner out with a sprained ankle.
Nugent-Hopkins could stick for longer than nine games if Gagner fails to return by then. If so, expect a similar rookie season to Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle -- somewhere around 15-20 goals and 40-45 points -- while playing on one of the top two lines.
Smyth RNH Eberle
The current 1st overall pick will push very hard to make the team out of training camp. Playing between Eberle and Smyth would certainly be putting him in position to succeed.
He said on Wednesday that he can’t say for certain yet if he is ready for prime time, only that his primary objective hasn’t changed: he wants to start the season with the Oilers, and not the Red Deer Rebels.
The 2011 first overall pick sounds eager to make the team out of camp but will need to outplay veterans like Gilbert Brule and Eric Belanger in the process. Training camp should be a litmus test for his work ethic and determination.
"It's definitely quite a bit different now," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I'm actually part of the organization. I just want to wear this sweater and I just want to go on the ice and play ... it's pretty cool just wearing the Oilers stuff.
Nugent-Hopkins holds a pretty good chance of making the Edmonton Oilers out of training camp as the past four first-overall selections have made their respective teams following the draft.