Feb 27, 2012; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Top 10 Oiler Stories Of 2011-12: #3 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

If you have trouble with times and dates, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can easily be remembered by being “middle” in the team’s three number one consecutive picks.

Today, Nugent-Hopkins is nominated for the Calder Trophy, annually awarded to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. If he wasn’t injured for nearly two dozen games this season, he’d almost certainly be a lock.

It’s a fact that I wanted the Oilers to address their defence in last year’s draft with current New Jersey Devil Adam Larsson.  Unfortunately for this hombre, management waited until the second round when Frank David Musil was selected at 31st overall.

The Oilers opted instead for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out of Red Deer.  Like the never-ending cavalcade of ‘concerns’ leading up to the draft will once again ensue, the knock on Nugent-Hopkins was his size, his durability, and whether or not he could absorb a hit from a defenceman that wouldn’t cause his 175-lb frame to turn into pixie dust.

The team selected RNH first overall.  After much hullabaloo among fan and media types, Nugent-Hopkins dressed for the opener.

And then, sort of this.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would score more spellbinding goals than this one.  Nugent-Hopkins would cap his first two months in the NHL by winning Rookie Of the Month honours for both of them.  RNH would miss a combined twenty games spanning two separate shoulder incidences this year, but was able to put up 52 points (18-34-52) in 62 games.  This works out to .838 points per game.  Let’s see who that puts him on par with…

  • ZACH PARISE – NJD (.84)
  • HENRIK ZETTERBERG – DET (.84)
  • RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS – EDM (.84)
  • P.A. PARENTEAU – NYI (.84)
  • ALEX OVECHKIN – WSH (.83)
Now, don’t let all this get to your head.  RNH had some pretty cushy minutes this year and was paired favourably against the competition.  But don’t take any credit away from what could be a Calder winning campaign.  Some other numbers to ponder:  20 assists on the power play, three power play goals, and only 16 PIM.

If RNH can stay healthy for 80 games, look for bigger and better things in 2012-13.

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