2011 NHL Draft: 5 Reasons Why Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Should Not Go First
According to Central Scouting, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the top ranked North American skater eligible for the 2011 NHL Draft, which will be held this coming Friday in Minnesota. Recent mock drafts on NHL.com have experts in unanimous agreement: Nugent-Hopkins will be the first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Nugent-Hopkins has spent the last two seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. The 18-year-old center had 106 points in 69 games while also boasting a plus-30 rating. He was tied for third in the WHL in scoring, and he led the league with 75 assists.
When I was first asked to do a piece on why Nugent-Hopkins shouldn't be the first overall pick, I admit I was a bit confused. As I looked over his scouting report and his statistics, I failed to see what the drawbacks could be for the Oilers. He has a lot of offensive power, can contribute on the power play and has a good work ethic. What could possibly be the problem?
Well, after some looking around, I think I have come up with five potential reasons the Oilers may not want to draft Hopkins. To help my case, I decided to make some comparisons with his statistics to those of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, who were also first round picks for the Oilers in recent drafts.
1. Lack of Size
Various scouting reports and other articles on the Internet have pointed to Hopkins' lack of size as a reason why he may not be a good first overall pick.
Hopkins stands at 6'0" and 164 lbs. At the beginning of the year, he was noted at 170, so it's possible he could have lost weight during the season (it's also possible that his weight on the preliminary rankings list was listed incorrectly, but I'm going by what I read here).
Either way, Hopkins is a bit small for an NHL player. Furthermore, the Oilers already have three forwards under 6'0" (Gilbert Brule is 5'11", Andrew Cogliano is 5'10" and Sam Gagner is 5'11").
Edmonton does not need to add another small forward to the squad.
2. Too Similar to Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle
Eberle, the Oilers' first round pick in 2008 (22nd overall), also has a smaller frame. Although he stands at six feet tall, he weighs just 185 lbs. He played his junior hockey with the Regina Pats, also of the WHL, and had one 100-point season, posting 106 points in 2009-10.
Hall has a little more size than Eberle and Hopkins, as he comes in at 6'1" and 195 lbs. He spent his junior days with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, and he had a 100-point season as well.
All three of these young stars scored at least 50 points every year they were in junior hockey.
There's nothing wrong with a player who can put up a lot of points and play on a top line, but the Oilers do not need to go down this road in the draft again. They should try addressing some of their other needs.
3. Not Enough Time in Junior Hockey
Before Hall and Eberle were drafted, they spent significant time with their respective junior leagues. Hall was in Windsor for three seasons, while Eberle played four years in Regina.
Hopkins has only spent two years with the Rebels. Although his point totals are impressive, it's quite a risk for him to leave the WHL and make the jump to the NHL.
It's also possible that Hopkins could be sent back to the WHL for 2011-12, but a path for him has not yet been determined. Hopefully, the Oilers don't rush into anything with him.
4. Not Enough Big Game Experience
Hopkins has represented Canada at international tournaments just twice in his career. At the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, he had five points as Canada finished in fifth place. He also represented Canada at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, posting seven points in five games as Canada won a gold medal.
However, he lacks time in major tournaments such as the World Junior Championships. In fact, he was one of the last players cut from the 2011 World Junior Championship team.
Wouldn't a top prospect have made that squad?
Maybe the talent pool was deep, but it says something if he did not make the roster and he is such a highly touted player.
Eberle has medaled in two World Junior Championships and participated in the Under 18 championships. Hall has also been in two IIHF junior tournaments, the Under 20 tournament in 2010 and the Under 18 in 2008.
5. Low Even Strength Point Production
It's no secret that the Oilers need offensive help. They were 27th in the NHL this year with 2.33 goals per game. Their team statistics indicate that they only scored 127 even strength goals (28th in the NHL).
Hopkins' 106 points look good on paper, but 59 of those points came on the power play. That means 55.6 percent of his points were on the man advantage, and only 47 were at even strength.
The Oilers also need help on their power play, as they were 27th in the league with a 14.5 percent success rate. While Hopkins could be a valuable asset there, many feel it is a concern that he does not do as well on even strength.
Stick tap to fellow B/R writer Karl Parkinson for the information on Hopkins' points percentage. He talks about it in his own piece about why Hopkins is a risky first overall pick. You can check it out here: