The World Cup of Hockey officially begins on September 17, and four Edmonton Oilers players will be participating in the tournament in the coming week.
We profiled and predicted how Connor McDavid will stack up in Monday’s piece, and now, we will take a glance at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Team North America has players under the age of 23 from Canada and the USA. Experience for this team is lacking when compared to the other teams in the tourament, but the talent on the team alone gives them an upper hand.
Only Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier have played over 300 NHL games, and the moset experienced player after them is Brandon Saad (286). These three players will shoulder the tough defensive minutes, as well as play mentor for the younger players on the roster.
That’s a strange thing to say about “Baby Nuge” as most Edmonton Oilers fans have watched him grow from his rookie season, but he definitely has potential to be a leader.
The team will be looking to Nugent-Hopkins to take on the tough defensive zone time. Judging from the line combinations on day two of practice, Nuge will be playing with Nathan MacKinnon. Then, depending on the zone start Auston Matthews or Dylan Larkin will likely be on the other wing. This makes sense as all of them are centremen and can play a full 200 foot game.
Nugent-Hopkins will additionally be a key piece for the penalty kill. Team NA will most likely be pushed around which will lead to a lot of penalties so the penalty kill will be crucial to their success.owever
Todd McLellan is using Nugent-Hopkins to help Matthews learn the NHL game on the fly during the tournament. I think Matthews will be used sparingly at the start of the tournament, getting soft offensive zone starts and bottom-six minutes. Nugent-Hopkins will be taking on the tough minutes my hope is that he comes out of the tournament uninjured.
He will not be a great point producer, but will be noticeable in key areas that aren’t on the score sheet. My prediction has Nuge finishing with zero goals and two assists in four games. He will most likely be starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone which usually doesn’t translate into points.