There are plenty of great top pick versus second overall pick battles in individual NHL draft years, but Nugent-Hopkins vs.Landeskog just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like Hall-Seguin or Ovechkin-Malkin. (I think it’s already safe to say it’s better than Phillips-Zyuzin, though.)
Lack of panache aside, both rookies have been great assets for their teams, so tonight’s Edmonton Oilers-Colorado Avalanche game deserved a little more hype than it received in mainstream circles. A big youngster did indeed come up big, too, but it was in a more literal way; huge goalie Devan Dubnyk turned aside 40 out of 41 shots to secure a 3-1 win.
Landeskog certainly had his chances, though. The Swedish second overall pick fired six shots on goal while playing almost 18 minutes.
Nugent-Hopkins’ team won, but his first game as a guaranteed full-timer wasn’t very inspiring. He managed only one shot on goal, just 13:28 minutes of ice time and lost six out of nine faceoffs.
If you base “winners” on team play alone, then “RNH” made it 1-0 in the duel of 2011 top picks. I’d probably give Landeskog the nod, though, but maybe that means it was really a draw.