By now, most people in the hockey world have heard of the Edmonton Oilers No. 1 draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Ryan is currently a center for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. In his second full season with them, the eighteen-year-old registered 31 goals, 75 assists, and 106 points in 69 regular season contests. In the nine playoff games he partook in, Ryan had 4 goals, 7 assists and 11 total points.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is easily one of, if not the current best-player in the WHL. However, the biggest question facing him is whether or not he is ready to join Taylor Hall in the Oilers lineup this season. Here are three reasons why Ryan should spend another year in the minors.
Reason 1: He needs to grow
At 6'1" and 175 pounds, Ryan is a rather skinny hockey player, especially for a center. Another year in the Juniors should help him add much-needed muscle mass and some meat. The average weight of any given NHL player is around 200 pounds, so that 25-pound difference could mean Ryan would easily get tossed around.
At only eighteen years of age, Ryan's body is still developing, so another season to grow and add weight would not hurt him at all. It will give him time to add muscle, and then learn how to play with the added muscle mass. Throwing him into the Oilers lineup may mean he would see limited playing time until he grows, or that he may get hurt, something no NHL fan would want to see.
Reason 2: Another year will not harm his skills
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins's great playmaking ability is constantly being toted as one of his key features. Also, he is known as being a great two-way player, being not only offensively talented, but also playing a strong and responsible defensive game.
Not only is Ryan a skilled passer and playmaker, he is a sniper, being able to fire his accurate shot very quickly. He is a very intelligent hockey player, which allows him to see "the big picture" while he plays.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is not only an agile skater, but he is also a quick one, making him a threat in the offensive zone, and a great player to have in the defensive.
Another year in the Juniors will not stunt the growth of his skills. Even if he is not feeling challenged enough, it gives him time to actually fine-tune his skills to the point where he becomes one of the biggest threats in hockey. Another year to perfect his skills playing against players who may not be up to his caliber may make him even more dangerous.
It would allow him to try out new tactics and experiment with his game a little more, which may allow him to come up with new ideas that he did not originally believe would be successful in his game.
Reason 3: The Oilers are not Cup-ready this year anyway
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins's skills are not necessary in the Oilers lineup anyway because the Oilers are not a Cup-threat this year. Even though their team has been improving each year, they have little-to-no chance of beating well-developed teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Vancouver Canucks.
Therefore, there is no rush for Ryan to join the Oilers lineup this upcoming season.
Another year in the Juniors to give him time to grow so he will not get hurt will benefit the Oilers organization much more than if he were to jump in the lineup this year. This way, his development will not be hampered. Many a potentially great hockey player have not been able to live up to their expectations because they were rushed into the NHL too quickly.
Therefore, it is more beneficial for the Oilers in the long run if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spent one more year in the Juniors.
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