The Goods: Drafting the Nuge

06/21/2011 12:19 AM -  Ian Gooding

It looks like the Edmonton Oilers might reach for the Nuge at Friday’s draft.

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is ranked as the NHL’s top prospect by nine out of ten scouts polled. If the Oilers’ war room decides to follow conventional wisdom and draft Nugent-Hopkins, he will join an Oilers team that is overflowing with young talent up front, including the trio of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi. In other words, the Oilers won’t have this much scoring talent assembled since, umm, 1980. Add in a possible Ryan Smyth return, and this could be one interesting team to watch next season.

For more on RNH and his skill set, check out this article I wrote back in November, when I had the chance to watch him play for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. Since that time, he has become the WHL’s fourth-leading scorer in 2010-11 (106 points in 69 games) while being named to the WHL’s East First All-Star Team. He was unable to earn a spot on Canada’s World Junior roster, but that didn’t stop him from being named the captain of Team Orr at the CHL Top Prospects Game in January.

The Oilers drafting Nugent-Hopkins would make perfect sense from a marketing standpoint, as he would not have to journey very far from his old hockey home to his new one (154 km north on Highway 2). But would the Oilers be better served in drafting Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson? Just as the Oilers are stockpiling at the forward position, they are also in need of serious help on the blueline. Larsson has solid size for an 18-year-old (6′3″, 200 lbs.), and he can log major minutes – possibly enough to make Oilers fans forget about Sheldon Souray, anyway. This year’s draft may not be the deepest one on record, but the Oilers can also choose from rising star and Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Richards-clone and supposedly NHL-ready Gabriel Landeskog, and former number one-ranked prospect Sean Couturier. Colorado (who already has a plan for the number two pick), Florida, New Jersey, and the New York Islanders will be able to grab whatever’s left of the top five picks. Don’t expect the Oilers to trade the pick, however, as it only makes sense for them to continue with the rebuild process.

What is my prediction? I say that the Nuge is handed an Oilers sweater on Friday. When the Winnipeg Whatevers pick at number seven, they may not have a sweater to hand their first-ever draft pick. As for other excitement, look for a minor deal or two on draft day, although I don’t believe there will be any blockbuster trades. July 1 should be a whole lot more interesting when it comes to players changing teams.

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  1. Garrett Rees says:

    From what I’ve heard, the Avs are going to take Landeskog 2nd and Larsen could fall to the #4 pick. Should be fun to see if this hold’s true on Friday.

    Living in Denver, it should be fun to see Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Stastny, EJ, Stefan Elliott, etc. and perhaps Landeskop and whoever is picked #11 grow and develop together.

  2. Ian Gooding says:

    Boy was I wrong… Flyers cleaned house today. Who would have thought they would trade both Carter AND Richards? I assume it’s to make way for Bryzgalov.

  3. Ian Gooding says:

    Good call on Landeskog and Larsson, Garrett. How many other picks did you get right?

  4. Garrett Rees says:

    Haha, only other one I was figuring was that Dallas would take Oleksiak if Siemens wasn’t still available, and it turned out the Avs ended up snagging Siemens with their 2nd first-rounder and the Stars did indeed take Big O.

    Colorado, Ottawa, NJ, and Edmonton all had great days IMO. Definitely wasn’t expecting Scheifele going in the top 10 and was surprised to see Couterier go so late after being hyped as a potential #1 at the beginning of the season.

    Also, I loved seeing Stefan Noeson go #21 overall (although I was really hoping he would fall to #44 and the Stars would snag him). He is from Plano, TX which neighbors my hometown of Richardson, TX (Dallas County). A DFW boy going in the first round is awesome to see!

    And finally, how crazy was it to see Devin Setoguchi get traded the day after he signed a 3-year contract extension?! Pretty weird turn of events right there.

  5. Ian Gooding says:

    Funny… I was watching Oleksiak when he was being drafted by the Stars. He absolutely towered over the Stars’ management people including Nieuwendyk, who is no shorty.

    Apparently Oleksiak’s standing vertical is higher than Rocco Grimaldi’s leaping vertical (Oleksiak is 6′7″, Grimaldi is 5′6″).

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