Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Oilers make Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this year’s number one pick

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.

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Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?