Good Grief!



There is a day(s) long debate going on over at Lowetide dealing with whether or not Ryan Nugent-Hopkins  is a legitimate #1C.

He isn’t.

There is a lot of blather about how he’s playing tough competition, is hampered by the Oilers lack of puck moving defensemen and is playing with stiffs.

That, of course, is nonsense.

Many other recent draft picks face those same obstacles and are having much more success than Hopkins.

Hopkins had a great rookie season buoyed by an unsustainable 13.4 shooting percentage but has settled to a more normal 10.6 career shooting percentage. The larger sample size is, of course, much more representative of what we can expect going forward.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Hopkins is a very good hockey player and he may have another level to get to but he just doesn’t produce the scoring numbers to be a #1C NOW and based on what we’ve seen he may never reach that level.

Hopkins is currently ranked 64th in 5V5 P/60 at 1.69 (very mediocre)

On the PP he is currently ranked 96th at 2.15 (that is dreadful).

If we look at his draft class (2011) Gabriel Landeskog has more GP,  more goals and more points.

Landeskog also plays with a porous defense, plays the toughest competition and is far and away better than Hopkins at evens (1.81) and on the PP (3.88)

This isn’t close folks.

There are many young centres in the Hopkins age range that are out producing him 5V5:

Ryan Strome: 2.77

Josh Bailey -2.62

Tyler Seguin – 2.54

Nick Bonino – 2.28

Matt Duchene – 2.22

Alex Galchenyuk – 2.17

Nick Bjugstad – 2.10

Ryan Johansen  – 2.09

Nathan MacKinnonn – 1.91

Hopkins – 1.69

GCW-Rocks has been fighting a valiant fight over at Lowetide trying to convince the hive mind there that Hopkins is likely a very good #2C but the force of the hive is convinced that  Hopkins is the next Pavel Datsyuk.

While that may be true, it’s also possible Hopkins is the next Tyler Bozak.

I’d put my money on the latter.









6 thoughts on “Good Grief!

  1. I am generally uncomfortable with using the term “first line player” because it is entirely situational. Is Nugent-Hopkins the Oilers first line centre? No question. But on how many teams would he be number one? I could argue for five, maybe six, but no more. Is he a third line centre? He would be on L.A. or Pittsburgh, but the Pens couldn’t afford Jordan Staal, so Kelly Hrudey suggesting third line centre is laughable.

    The question should possibly be, is he an elite offensive, first line player? The answer, as you have shown, is right now no. It should not be a surprise. His last year in Junior, his pts./g was 1.54. This is well short of Tavares’ 1.83 and not even in sight of what McDavid or Strome are putting up this year. What you see, offensively, could improve, but probably not substantially. Offense tends to peak by age 23 or 24. Right now his upper limit would seem to be 60-70 points.

    This is disappointing, especially for a number one overall pick, but not a disaster. The one criticism that I have seen of Jonathon Toews is that he does not put up elite offensive numbers (one 70+ point season). In the late 1970s, Montreal’s first line consisted of Jacque Lemaire between Guy LaFleur and Steve Shutt. Lemaire would never be considered a first line centre today, but the five cups in a row argued that he was effective in that role with those players.

    If Nugent-Hopkins was surrounded by a team like the Blackhawks, putting up consistent 60ish point seasons and being defensively responsible, we would not be having this conversation. The fact that he is not elite offensively is an issue because of dumpster fire that he is a part of.


    1. Toews first 4 seasons after being drafted in 2006:

      07/08 – .85 PPG
      08/09 – .84 PPG
      09/10 – .89 PPG
      11/12 – .97 PPG


      11/12 – .83 PPG (high shooting %)
      12/13 – .60 PPG
      13/14 – .70 PPG
      14/15 – .63 PPG

      Now, you can argue Toews plays for a better team and, while that’s true, one of the major reasons that team is so much better is because of Toews.

      On a contending team, Hopkins would be a very good second line centre but he has not shown enough offence to warrant his place as a 1st line centre, as you say, on all but a few bad teams.

      And, if he played for the Blackhawks, I have no doubt he would be, at best a #2C.

      If the Oilers are lucky (incompetent) enough to draft McDavid or Eichel and maybe even Strome, Hopkins will soon become the Oilers #2C, which was my point.


  2. I don’t think we are disagreeing. I think that a consistent 60-70 pts. is the highest reasonable expectation for Nugent-Hopkins. If it happens and he continues to develop his defensive game, then he would be a reasonable, but certainly not elite first line centre. A team could win with that, but the rest of the team would need to be great. Datsyuk is a pipedream. As a second line centre, there would be few better. (I believe the average point total for a second line centre is about 45) With his build, he would do very well if a coach could give him soft minutes. No question he struggles against big centres, and I doubt that changes. Of course, I am talking potential, not present production. Present production would be excellent for a second line centre. (However $6 million a year would be problematic)

    I believe that the P/60 is ranked for all players, is it not? I tend to disregard PP P/60, as I think Stamkos would have trouble scoring on the Oilers powerplay.

    I think that we can completely agree that, right now, playoff contending teams will probably have a better offensive centre on line one, but few would have a better soft minutes centre. Not what you would hope from number one overall, but it is what it is. I think that Strome would eventually take the number one centre job if the Oilers get him. McDavid or Eikel, no question. I don’t think Draisaitl has any chance of doing that.

    The effects of teammates would be difficult to quantify between different teams, but I have not yet seen this year a team as poor at making the outlet pass or headmanning the puck as the Oilers. Petry is the only Oiler defenceman who could even make the Hawks, and then not in the top four. (and not because I dislike Petry) However, I think that the Hawks try to play Keith and Seabrook with Kane’s line more than Toews.

    As I write this, Nugent- Hopkins scores on the PP! LOL!

    Thanks for, yet again, challenging “generally accepted” knowledge among Oiler fans. I don’t always agree, but you always make me think about it.


  3. You can tell he is a player type that will go under the radar until he is in his late 20s and then all of a sudden everyone will go OMG he is amazing. Not worried about his production. People don’t realize how much of your offensive flow comes from your defense and when you have to take the puck from your end all the way to the opposing end how hard it is to generate chances. He may not become Datsyuk, but Bozak cmon man. That’s pretty ridiculous. You know what Bozak was doing when he was Nuge’s age. Not playing in the NHL.


    1. Hopkins is closer to Bozak than you might think.

      Bozak is a very good second line centre punching above his weight class on a first line …pretty much the same as Hopkins.

      I’d wager that the Oilers will soon draft a better centre and Hopkins will eventually end up as a second line centre.

      While he may get easier opposition, he will also give up prime minutes to a better centre and his production will reflect that.

      Not surprisingly, both Bozak and Hopkin are producing at almost identical rates on bad teams with poor defences.

      Bozak – 16G 37P -17

      Hopkins – 16g 36P -10

      While Bozak is older, he also went the NCAA route so was later to the party but, unless Hopkins has another gear, the difference isn’t as great as you might think.


  4. This is a systemic issue with the Oilers I’m afraid.

    While I believe RNH to be a very good second line centre on a very good team.

    The one thing that is constant is the Oilers management to absolutely over value its talent, MacTavish on many occasions this year has spoken highly of RNH in the 1C capacity.

    Eakins sure as hell used him as a 1C and at times was playing him a ridicules 26 minutes a nights! This happened on more than a few occasions.

    We can see it in the way MacTavish hoped and dreamed that Draisaitl would come in and slide right into the 2C spot of an NHL team, only to find him sheltered in the 4C spot behind Arcobello who coincidentally was waived by 3 teams this year alone.

    You see, we can argue the merits of whether we think Hopkins is a legit 1C or not but the OILERS believe he is……………..that’s the problem.

    No, on a Stanley cup contender Hopkins is not a number 1C……….Full Stop!

    Seriously, Seguin or Hopkins…….This isn’t even a debate!
    Good lord.


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