The Next Ones – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – NHL 2011 Draft Prospect Profile: RNH NHL Destined

Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst

*For all the latest prospect and draft news follow me on Twitter: The Hockey Spy

Please “Click Here” for “Notes Up Front” and the “Legend” for various topics covered below in my “Live Updated” NHL 2010 Draft Preview article. (2011 specific article will be released as draft draws near.)



Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Born: Burnaby, B.C

DOB: April 12, 1993
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2011



The premiere playmaking forward in the draft passes the puck like the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers throws the pigskin – almost pure perfection.

RNH possesses a tantalizing combination – tremendous offensive skill-set, defensive awareness and great character. A speedy skater and an accurate shot to go with, “Hoppy” will earn the majority of his future NHL paycheck with his outstanding vision, exceptional playmaking ability and slick puck-handling skills.

Nugent-Hopkins reminds many of Matt Duchene for several reasons. The pure hockey ability comparison is certainly valid. RNH is of slighter build than Duchene was in his draft year though. One could also compare RNH the hockey player to the likes of Joe Sakic and Pavel Datsyuk, should he reach his immense potential.

On a level which is simply speculation on my part, RNH could potentially resemble Duchene if the following scenario comes to fruition. In 2009, I toyed with the idea of having Duchene #1 in my NHL 2009 Draft Rankings. In the end, I ranked the top 3 as they would end up being drafted – John Tavares, Victor Hedman, followed by Matt Duchene. Although we’re less than two years removed from the 2009 draft, all three are making their presence known in the NHL. If that draft was redone now – many a GM and scout would jump at the chance to draft Duchene first overall.

I could see the same thing playing out this draft year. While Ryan could certainly be drafted first overall, there are several players who have a reasonable chance of getting drafted ahead of RNH – Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier or Gabriel Landeskog. OHL blueliners Ryan Murphy and Dougie Hamilton may also garner some consideration, with Ryan Strome and Jonathon Hurbedeau the draft day dark horses (in terms of challenging for a top three selection).

Within two years after this year’s draft, GMs and scouts alike may be left scratching their heads if they are the ones who potentially decide to pass over Nugent-Hopkins.

Top Prospects Game: Hopkins excelled in this game featuring the top prospects playing in the CHL. For his two assist and impressive performance, he took home Player of the Game honours.


Scout’s Honor:

NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire feels the sky’s the limit for Nugent-Hopkins.

“He’s got great skill and a knack for offense,” McGuire said. “He scored the first goal of the whole competition at (RDO camp) with a great shot and his Red Deer Rebels will be blessed with his skill set all year.”

Chris Edwards, NHL Central Scouting’s Ontario scout, has seen enough of Nugent-Hopkins to conclude his skill set is “very high.”

“He dominated the game at Red Deer and you can just see the talent coming right off the stick when he’s on the ice,” Edwards said. “Even in the (RDO camp), he made a few plays, made a move on a defenseman and fed the puck through another guy to set up a great scoring chance. He sees the ice very well, has excellent puck-handling and playmaking ability and skates very well.” (


“I think in most ways he’s ready (for the NHL),” said Red Deer Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin. “His talent level is certainly there and his character and maturity. I think the big thing that’s going to allow him to play at that level and exceed at that level is when he’s ready strength-wise. Could he play there next year? I’m sure he probably could. Is it going to be the right thing for him next year and long term? I think that’s what the team that takes him is going to have to determine and they probably won’t know that until September. Biggest factor for me, is he physically ready to play against men?”(The Province)


International Tournaments:

  • “Everyone knows the Hopkins kid is a top pick,” Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill told “At the (Ivan) Hlinka (Memorial U18) tournament in Slovakia (August 2010), he was one of the top players. He’s not a hidden secret and he played well (at RDO camp) even thought he was sick. He’s got good hockey sense, creates time for himself and he’s got the gift.”
  • RNH was amongst Team Canada’s final cuts for the 2011 WJCs in Buffalo.

ETA = 2 yrs

Risk-Reward Analysis:

Risk = 0.5/5   Reward = 4.5/5

NHL Potential:

Number one dynamic offensive centreman who is responsible defensively


pure hockey


*See “One Timer” section above.

  • Outstanding vision
  • Superior stickhandler
  • Exceptional playmaker
  • Leadership abilities
  • Accurate shot
  • Scintillating skater
  • Team player



Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:

  • Continue to train to increase strength and add mass to frame to handle the rigors of the NHL
  • Shot strength; his shot is accurate, but could be “beefed” up – will likely come as he grows and works on his strength

Fantasy Hockey Potential: Offensive =9 /10   Defensive = 8.5/10

NHL Player(s) Comparison:


At his best:

  • Matt Duchene
  • Joe Sakic
  • Pavel Datsyuk
  • Brad Richards

Video(s):RNH’s 6 point night February 4th, 2011

Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):

  • 2009-10 WHL Rookie of the Year
  • RNH states Maurice “The Rocket” Richard as his hockey hero; interesting choice for such a young gun.

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This document is the intellectual property of Christopher Ralph and cannot be used or duplicated in any way without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Christopher Ralph will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.

5 thoughts on “The Next Ones – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – NHL 2011 Draft Prospect Profile: RNH NHL Destined”

  1. in addition, i would like to recognize that RNH does have over 80 points in over 60 games this year, but when i look to a CHL prospect to be a real high caliber NHL player, I reference back to Jason Spezza’s OHL career..
    year team GP G A P
    1999-00 Mississauga OHL 52 24 37 61
    2000-01 Mississauga OHL 15 7 23 30
    2000-01 Windsor Spitfires OHL 41 36 50 86
    2001-02 Windsor Spitfires OHL 27 19 26 45
    2001-02 Belleville Bulls OHL 26 23 37 60

    • Hey Jake – thanks for the detailed response.

      Size does matters, but not in all cases. RNH is not as undersized as some very good 1st overall picks, however. The Blackhawks might disagree with your size argument. They did pretty decent for themselves in drafting a smaller player than RNH 1st overall – Patrick Kane. It worked out pretty good for them.

      Spezza’s numbers were very good. Keep in ind he was drafted in 2001 so 2001-02 year was his post draft year. Pretty tough to compare numbers of RNH as for one, it’s a different league – OHL vs WHL. As well, this is 10 yrs ago. RNH’s 87 pts in 62 gms does have in a very respectable 5th in WHL scoring in his draft yr.

  2. I never thought we’d come to the day where NHL organizations are, in all seriousness, considering drafting a prospect with the diminutive stature of a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, first overall. I would, however reconsider that statement, if the player proved to be a scoring sensation, and with not even a point per game average last year in junior, I seriously question the hockey world’s understanding of a worthy 1st overall player. What happened to the days of drafting dominant NHL caliber players? Mats Sundin, Mike Modano, Joe Thornton, Vinny Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, even Sidney Crosby. Every one of these first overall choices has had a magnificent career, and why is it? two factors. Overall hockey skill, and Size. None of the above players were under 190 pds leading into draft day, and most were over 200. Big, strong, dominant, skilled players. Sure, one may argue look at Sidney Crosby, he wasn’t so big! and my response would be, yes, look at sid. He’s sitting at home feeling dizzy from a hit he suffered over two months ago, while his team is slipping down the standings. Also, When he returns, I seriously doubt he will ever be as good as he was earlier this season, ever again. Sure, compare Hopkins to Sakic, Duchene, Datsyuk, Marc Savard(…), but even these players have always had something Hopkins does not. Puck strength. These guys are hard to push off the puck, even with their smaller stature. That is one key thing that, if RNH plans on have any impact at the NHL level at all, he better start working on. Hopkins has shown minimal ability to control and possess the puck successfully down low against stronger players, and in my opinion, is one of the easiest players to push off the puck, out of any of the projected 1st round players. Hockey is a game of grit, and we see it time and time again, that finesse players only last for so long, if there is no strength and grit to accommodate their skill. Maybe it’s just the Canadian minor hockey Associations making the mistake, because there is starting to be a very repulsive trend with Canadian players being undersized. Maybe Triple A teams should stop making their players run miles on end, day in and day out, and instead put them in the gym. In my opinion, the team who does draft Hopkins is making a mistake, unless they intend on spending ALOT of time and resources in developing him into a proper NHL caliber body. Maybe hire Gary Roberts or something..

    I just hope the Ottawa Senators don’t get sucked onto the RNH bandwagon!

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