Nugent-Hopkins may be sent to juniors

Share This Story


EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)

As impressive as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been in his first seven NHL games, the rookie sensation has no guarantee he will remain in the big leagues all season.

Oilers at a glance

Edmonton Oilers
Looking for the latest on the Oilers? Get the inside slant, stats, scores, schedules and more scoops right here.

Nugent-Hopkins leads rookies with five goals and seven points, but the 18-year-old center, taken by the Oilers with the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, still can't yet claim a permanent address.

With two games to go before Nugent-Hopkins reaches the nine-game threshold that would start his three-year, entry-level contract, fans are convinced the kid dubbed ''The Nuge'' should stick around.

But the Oilers haven't made a decision, and Nugent-Hopkins says he doesn't know if he will soon be sent back to his junior team — the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.

''No. Still nothing,'' Nugent-Hopkins said Monday. ''Still just waiting. I'm going to go into (Tuesday) night and just play and see what happens after that.''

If Oilers coach Tom Renney and team management have made a decision on their leading scorer, they aren't tipping their hand.

''Have I told him he's staying? No,'' Renney said.

Renney also wouldn't say if the Oilers would wait the full nine games before announcing a decision on Nugent-Hopkins' immediate future.

''I don't think we've really identified an internal timeline,'' Renney said. ''We talk about all our players every day, and he's certainly one of the ones we talk about a lot. I can tell you that it's all favorable, you know? The kid's doing a good job. At the end of the day, and I've said many, many times, it'll be the body of work we'll look at.

''There are other players who are involved in this process, too, that we have to make decisions. It's about a number of other players we have to pay attention to in terms of whether or not they're part of the lineup.''


Best on the ice or just playing nice? Which team tops our power rankings?

While Nugent-Hopkins shrugs off the silence, fans haven't been as quiet. Renney had Oilers supporters buzzing when he cut the ice time of Nugent-Hopkins and linemates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle late in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.

The chatter turned into a roar on radio call-in shows Saturday after Renney suggested Nugent-Hopkins might sit out a game as he sorts out his roster.

''I was surprised by the lack of intellect in as to why that would come about,'' Renney said of the reaction to his comments. ''Why wouldn't I at least consider, never having said I would, what our team would look like without him in the lineup?

''If you want to know how valuable a guy is, you don't really know how much you miss someone until you don't have him anymore ... I was kind of disappointed it grew the legs that it did, and people started to draw conclusions he might not play. I never, ever said he wouldn't play in the next game. I never said that at all.''

Nugent-Hopkins was in the lineup against the New York Rangers on Saturday and bounced back from two games without a point with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win.

''He's a point-a-game player,'' Hall said. ''He's got five goals. It's pretty hard to say that's not NHL caliber.

''He was brought in to produce offense, and he's done that in spades. That's what he wanted to do. I've said all along that if he came in and did what he did best, and he's even done more than that, he'd be a capable NHL player this year.''


Full NHL coverage

We've got everything you need with NHL news and analysis, scores, photos, videos, power rankings and more.

The Oilers told Hall, selected first overall in the 2010 draft, he would stay last season before his fifth game. At the time, Hall had just one assist.

''Maybe they think what they're doing, just keeping him on his heels a little bit, has worked,'' Hall said of management's insistence since draft day they won't rush Nugent-Hopkins.

''Before the last game, Tom gave him a little bit of a scare. Jordan and I love playing with him. We don't want our line to change, by any means, but we'll stand by the team whatever they do because that's who we play for. We all pull for all the best for Ryan. We want him to stay all year.''

Under the current CBA, there are two thresholds to consider with Nugent-Hopkins and NHL rookies.

If the Oilers play Nugent-Hopkins in 10 games this season, they use the first year of his entry-level contract. The Oilers can, however, return him to Red Deer before he plays 40 games without having this season count as service toward unrestricted free agency.

''I don't really worry about it. I just try to take it day by day,'' Nugent-Hopkins said. ''Right now, I'm here so I'm happy. I'm just doing everything I can to stay here, and I'm just going to keep doing that until I get told whether I am or whether I'm not.''

Nugent-Hopkins has made about as strong a case as possible to stay on a team that finished last in the NHL in back-to-back seasons.

''I try to just play and have fun,'' he said. ''I'm having a blast so far.''

Tagged: Oilers, Taylor Hall

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt