Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may have experienced some bumps in the road throughout his career, but come this training camp, he is looking better.
Not only does the 24-year-old centre have a goal and four points in just two games so far, but he is showing tremendous chemistry with Jussi Jokinen and company. In fact, he even looks impressive alongside Jussi Jokinen and even Kailer Yamamoto.
Edmonton’s former first overall pick had just 18 goals and 43 points in his first 82-game season last year. He has seen members of the Oilers’ former core, including Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, shipped out, and he is the last man standing. And because of this, he’s expected to step up and match his totals with his potential, or he may see himself on the way out as well.
However, he looks much stronger to start the year. Not only is he moving his feet and showing speed, but he is doing a good job of moving the puck up ice. He appears to be less timid with the puck and appears to have some more of creativity and risk in his game. Though it’s only preseason, it is important to note his performance, even early on.
Not only that, he is showing outstanding chemistry with Jokinen. Combined, the two have seven points so far, and they appear to be a one-two punch. With a strong winger on his side, Nugent-Hopkins can get back in sync and build off another player that compliments his style.
Looking at the Oilers’ depth and lineup plans, it could be possible that he remains on the top-six if he can keep up productively. However, with Leon Draisatil poised to carry his own line as the second-line centre, Nugent-Hopkins could see a fall to the third line. But as of right now, he is showing that he could very well keep his spot on the second line.