Being number one in the NHL Draft comes with a world of expectations. With a pedigree of guys like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and John Tavares it’s hard to not get overexcited about how the future might shake out. Fortunately for 2011 number one overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins he’ll have a teammate that knows all about that pressure in Taylor Hall, the 2010 first overall selection.
For Nugent-Hopkins, he knows the pressure is there but he’s staying focused on just trying to make the team first and foremost. Coming out of Red Deer in the WHL where he’s put up huge numbers including 106 points this past year including 31 goals, the pressure is on to join Hall and the rest of the youth brigade in Edmonton. To Nugent-Hopkins’ credit, he’s playing things cool.
Q. You talked yesterday a little bit about the possibility of going back for another year at Junior. Now that you know it’s the Oilers, have they talked to you at all about their thoughts in that regard?
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS: Not really. But I mean from what I’ve heard, Steve’s in no rush to get me playing. But if I do go back to Junior, I won’t be disappointed at all. It will be a great opportunity for us, Red Deer, as a team to hopefully to get to the Memorial Cup.
Personally it will be a good year of development for me too, but my goal now is to make the Oilers right now.
Nugent-Hopkins has the chance to join a very promising trio of forwards in Edmonton in Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi. With those three and Nugent-Hopkins being a future set-up man for the likes of Hall there’s good reason for the Oilers fans to have hope that these kids can make some history of their own.
While Oilers fans think back fondly of the days when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri dominated the NHL through the 1980s, the NHL being a much deeper league and vastly more talented than it was back then makes winning right away more difficult but if that corps of youth can live up to their potential, the Oilers are going to be a dangerous team for many years.