Former NHLer and current Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos has voiced concern over how the Edmonton Oilers are handling prized rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, suggesting the club might be wise to shut the youngster down for the year.
Nugent-Hopkins recently suffered his second shoulder injury of the season. The first cost him 13 games — the second is expected to shelve him for up to 10 days.
“They’ve got to be so careful with his kid,” Kypreos said (quote courtesy the Edmonton Journal). “And if it was me, I wouldn’t have any problems shutting him down.”
“Do you want this guy having shoulder problems the rest of his career? He’s got to get physically stronger going into next September. He’s a buck-70 soaking wet. He’s still not a man. He’s up against big guys here. Just be careful with the shoulder.”
RNH’s physical strength — or lack thereof — was a major concern heading into his first professional season. Even though he tested well during the NHL Draft combine and Edmonton’s preseason physicals, he was still a 6-foot-1, 175-pound 18-year-old (that reportedly weighed 161 pounds to start the 2010-11 season.) He defied all expectations by scoring at a near point-per-game clip through his first 40 contests, but injuries have limited him to just three games since Dec. 31.
With the Oilers season essentially over, Kypreos’ shut-down idea is an intriguing one — and it’s been done before, with impressive results.
The Los Angeles Clippers employed a similar strategy with Blake Griffin in 2009-10, shutting him down entirely after he suffered knee injury during L.A.’s final preseason game. He returned the next season and played all 82 games, earning an NBA All-Star spot and the league’s Rookie of the Year award.