The staff at NHL Central Scouting revealed their top eligible players available for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. On top of their list is Red Deer Rebel, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Hopkins is a 17 year-old who hails from Burnaby British Columbia. The centerman completed his 2010/11 year by collecting 31 goals and 75 assists for 106 points in the regular season. Despite being knocked out of the play-offs by the Medicine Hat Tigers, Hopkins managed to tally 11 points in 9 games.
Hopkins shoots left, stands at 6'0" and weighs 160 lbs. While there is a great deal of interest for the young sniper amongst the NHL, his stature becomes an instant knock, especially towards the Edmonton Oilers who have the option to take a pass on the Rebel. There is no doubt that the Oilers are interested in a first line centre, however in my opinion the Oilers are in desperate need of a big, mean bona-fide sniper who isn't afraid to stand in front of the net.
On the flip-side, Hopkins brings incredible vision and possesses high-end skill and has the ability to be an offensive scoring threat. In fact, Hopkins was recently compared to "Burnaby" Joe Sakic which to my mind are very big shoes to fill. Yet, to couple Hopkins with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle has the potential to become a very lethal first line which could become one of the best in the league.
Should the Oilers draft Hopkins, Oilers fans will probably not be able to see him take to the ice in time for the 2011 year, as he could find himself back in Red Deer for some seasoning.
While I believe that Hopkins could really improve the quality of the hockey club, I feel that GM Steve Tambellini will over look the top prospect and instead, will try to improve the back-end at the draft (Adam Larsson). The overall goal for Tambellini is to create a team who will find themselves a position in the post season next year. In other words, there is no more fail and Tambellini will do his best to improve the make-up of the team through the draft, and also part ways with some underachieving veterans; Curtis Foster and Steve MacIntyre instantly comes to mind.
Next up...Adam Larsson