Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Scouting Report

(For short summaries of each prospect’s strengths and weaknesses, and NHL stat projections, scroll to the bottom of each prospect’s scouting report)


Position: Center

Shoots: Left 

Height: 6’0.5″ 

Weight: 164 lbs 

Date of Birth: April 12, 1993 

Nationality: Canadian 

Plays for: Red Deer Rebels, WHL

Full Scouting Report:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a dynamic center in the mold of Jonathan Toews, with perhaps more of a playmaking instinct to his game. At 6’0.5″ and 164 lbs, he does not have dominant size for the NHL, but his leg strength and superior balance on his skates should partially compensate for this, even in the corners against big NHL defenseman. However, Nugent-Hopkins will still need to further fill out his 6 foot frame if he is to maximize his talents at the NHL level.

In addition to having good balance and agility on his skates, Nugent-Hopkins has excellent hockey sense at both ends of the rink, and is a deft passer of the puck. He ranked 1st in WHL assists for the 2011 season. Another one of his best assets offensively is his puck-handling. Nugent-Hopkins uses a relatively short stick, which compliments his natural ability to control the puck in a very precise manner, even in close to his feet, which many players find difficult.

Speed wise, Nugent-Hopkins is very good, but not in the elite range. Speed comparisons to NHL players would again be Jonathan Toews, or Pavel Datsyuk.  Nugent-Hopkins’ acceleration is also good, but once again not in the elite range. When compared to last year’s #1 overall pick, Taylor Hall, who has fantastic acceleration, Nugent-Hopkins’ acceleration comes up short.  However, Taylor Hall’s balance was not as good when he was drafted as Nugent-Hopkin’s is coming into this year’s draft. This is one reason why Taylor Hall is considered more of a goal scoring winger, someone who will be first in on the forecheck, who will beat you with his speed to the outside of the ice and then power to the net, whereas Nugent-Hopkins is seen as a center who can slow the game down a little bit more and make more plays in the middle of the ice, utilizing his edges and puck-control in tight spaces. Nugent-Hopkins is a little bit more “finesse” than Hall. He’s more creative.  He relies more on his vision and hockey sense to create offense than Hall does. And he’s more precise in carrying out those creative plays. Whereas

Hall is faster and much more powerful, and he uses those skills to his advantage. As an example, Nugent-Hopkins is the one you would want on the powerplay with the puck on the side-boards, orchestrating things, and Hall is the one you would want setting up for the one-timer, or crashing the net. If the Edmonton Oilers draft Nugent-Hopkins and end up with both him and Hall, those two should compliment each other very well for years to come, like two partner pieces of a puzzle.

When it comes to his shot, Nugent-Hopkins has a deceptively quick release, and an accurate shot. He does not shoot it as hard as many of the bigger players, or as hard as Hall did coming into last year’s NHL draft, but his release and accuracy make for a good shot overall. He should have no problem scoring goals during his prime in the NHL. He may not ever be an elite goal scorer, but he should be in the 30 goal per season range during his prime, give or take, depending on his line mates and role on the team.
Defensively, Nugent-Hopkins’ hockey sense translates well. The flashy way he steals the puck from opposing players has drawn Pavel Datsyuk comparisons, but his defensive awareness and positioning are very good also. He should develop into a very good two-way center.

Talent Conclusion:

Aside from not having elite size, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins excels at most every aspect of the game. We will all simply have to wait and see how well Nugent-Hopkins’ many talents translate to the NHL, but I believe he will be a point-per-game center in the NHL during his prime. How quickly he will reach that level of production depends on how quickly he develops, but, contingent on him receiving top-line ice time, I believe he can hit 80 points by his 3rd NHL season, probably with around a 30 goal, 50 assist split. However, I do not believe he will regularly be in the Art-Ross trophy discussion for the player with the most points in an NHL season, or that we should expect many 95 points seasons or above from him. In my estimation, Nugent-Hopkins projects more as a great two-way, 80-85 points per season playmaking center, than he does a yearly scoring champion.

Strengths: Skating, puck-handling, passing, hockey sense—offensive and defensive, quick release

Weaknesses needing improvement: Upper body strength

NHL ProjectionRyan Nugent-Hopkins figures to be an excellent two-way, playmaking center, who will score an average of 30 goals and 80-85 points per season during his prime.


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