Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Will Have A Huge Impact In The NHL Playoffs

Edmonton Oilers Forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, #93. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers Forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, #93. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Edmonton Oilers are well on their way to securing a spot in the NHL Playoffs. Once the playoffs start they are going to need a player to make an impact on every game. To me that player is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Although Nugent-Hopkins may not put up the offensive numbers like Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, but he contributes in other ways. He is a very solid player in both ends of the ice and when it comes the playoffs that is a player every team needs.

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A look at the past

I like to compare this current Oilers team to the 2008-2009 Pittsburg Penguins team. That team had 3 solid centers to help their depth. They had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin then Jordan Staal. This is just like the Oilers with McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins.

Scoring Regular Season Table
1Evgeni Malkin82357811317
2Sidney Crosby7733701033
3Jordan Staal822227495

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com:

Scoring Regular Season Table
1Connor McDavid73426610822
2Leon Draisaitl73515110217
4Ryan Nugent-Hopkins551034443

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com:

During the regular season the three for Pittsburg were the top three in scoring, for the Oilers if Nugent-Hopkins didn’t get injured the centers would be the top three for them as well. During the playoffs Jordan Staal’s points went down. That is because his third line was taken out of a scoring role and was placed in a shutdown role. That line would play against the other team’s best players and try stifle their offence.

Can Ryan Nugent-Hopkins be the Oilers Shutdown center?

With the scoring numbers decreasing in the NHL playoffs the Edmonton Oilers will need to slow down the other team’s top players. In order to do that you will need a line with players that are defensively minded and have a good hockey sense.

The Oilers current third line centered by Nugent-Hopkins will be the perfect line for that. Recently he has been playing with Derek Ryan and Warren Foegele. We have also seen Derick Brassard on a line with Nugent-Hopkins. All those other players are also very solid shutdown players that you can trust in the defensive zone.

The difference between the wingers and Nugent-Hopkins, is Nugent-Hopkins is also relied on to provide offense.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, powerplay asset?

When it comes to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins powerplay points it is a similar story to his total season stats. The only difference is when it comes to points per game on the powerplay Nugent-Hopkins is third on the team by a large amount.

Scoring Regular Season Powerplay Table
Connor McDavid73930
Leon Draisaitl732116
Zach Hyman6845
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins55119
Evan Bouchard7324
Tyson Barrie65316
Kailer Yamamoto7332
Jesse Puljujarvi6043
Darnell Nurse6706
Evander Kane3531
Warren Foegele7421
Duncan Keith5602
Ryan McLeod6313
Zack Kassian5020

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com

While McDavid and Draisaitl are still first and second for powerplay points, Nugent-Hopkins is third and has played quite a bit less games than any other player on this list. I would say that Nugent-Hopkins is a very important piece to the powerplay. When he was out earlier this season we did see the powerplay struggle which is proof of this point.

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I know that in the playoffs that most of the eyes will be on Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and the Oilers goalie, but I think the biggest impact will come from deeper in the lineup. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is that player for me. He plays in all aspects of the game 5v5, powerplay and shorthanded, this is why he his play will have an important part to play.

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