Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A quick musing on what the draft lottery means to me
I want this guy in Oiler colours.
I’ve never been one to shy away with giving out my opinion, especially if I’m leaning strongly one way on a topic. Last year I soap-boxed for Taylor Hall all the damn year and was rewarded. In 2007 I nearly hit my ceiling when we selected Alex Plante (jury’s still out on that one).
And now we come to the 2011 entry draft, where once again I’ve got my eye on a particular player. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first won me over reading up on him from the 2010 THN edition of Draft Watch. His unique combination of skill and speed was more than enough for me to overcome his slight stature. I made a note to follow his 2010/11 season with a close eye, perhaps more so than any other draft eligible prospect. Though I am not in a position to watch him play live (A WHL team in Winnipeg is higher on my list of necessary things in the ‘Peg than an NHL franchise), I followed his stats lines closely. Initial concern about his lack of goal production was buffered by the notion of Hall riding shotgun.
Then came the Top Prospects game in which he put on a hell of a show for me. I finally was able to take personal opinion from his game style and compare it to paper reports. His creativity, vision and overall hockey sense were what stuck with me the most from that viewing and carried over to the next time I saw him play, in his opening round series with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Much like Sidney Crosby did to the Oilers in his first appearance in Edmonton, RNH patiently went about his game until he struck. Then again. Then again. Before the Oil Kings knew what had happened the game was a lost cause and RNH was front and center in the charge.
There are some other nice talents in the draft this year. Adam Larsson will make another GM very happy when he’s playing 25 minutes a night. Gabriel Landeskog might be the next Mike Richards-type player. Sean Couturier’s light may have just dimmed this year and could make us all look like fools. But in the end I know what I like watching in Oilers hockey and that’s speed and creativity, pure and simple.
And that’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ game.