Why don’t you just give him the trophy

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The season is just 19 games in, but Nugent-Hopkins is already a Calder contender

What the Puck?!
Autumn McDowell

Sports Editor

His name may look hideous on the back of a jersey, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is legit.

When the Edmonton Oilers made their first-overall selection for the second year in a row at the 2011 NHL entry draft, it was not surprising that they continued their trend of drafting small skilled forwards. What was surprising was that the Oilers seemed to actually be debating sending the Burnaby product back to juniors. Who were they trying to kid?

I suppose one could have argued that sending Nugent-Hopkins back to juniors would give him more time to develop. Although that may be the right thing to do for some players, it can also backfire on a team in a hurry. Fans may remember when the Vancouver Canucks sent CHL player of the year Cody Hodgson back to juniors after he thought he had done everything he could and deserved to play in the NHL. Hodgson ended up injuring his back, could not play in the World Junior Hockey Championships, and played only 13 games during his “developmental” season.

Let’s get real. Nugent-Hopkins obviously doesn’t need more time to develop if he just went first overall in the NHL entry draft and had 106 points in 69 games with the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL. Plus, it’s not like the Oilers are so unreal that they don’t need the offensive talent, or that they have a veteran lineup with no room for any rookies. In fact, it is the exact opposite. With the young guns taking over in Edmonton, it made sense to bring in another one, because really, what did they have to lose? In case anyone forgot, the Edmonton Oilers were dead last in the entire league for two years in a row.

It looks like the Oilers made the right decision by keeping this youngster in the show, as he is currently taking the National Hockey League by storm.

Nineteen seems to be Nugent-Hopkins’s lucky number, as he racked his point total up to 19 points in 19 games on Nov. 19, when he had a five-point night in the Oilers’ dominating 9-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite his unreal performance in the NHL, some people still want the Oilers to lone Nugent-Hopkins to Team Canada so he can compete in the World Juniors this year. Though I would not complain to see him suit up with the Red and White this Christmas, I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

It just doesn’t make sense for the Oilers to loan him. Many NHL teams do loan their young players to the WJHC, but that is usually if they are having a sub-par season and it won’t affect the team. Fans will recall the St. Louis Blues giving Alex Pietrangelo to Team Canada back in 2009. He was having a decent campaign in the show and had a great tournament, but the end result was that he was sent back to juniors immediately after.

Face it, the Oilers will not send their leading point scorer to the World Juniors. I’m sorry if that came as a shock to fans, but if it did you are probably not a real fan in the first place, or you would have figured this fact out for yourself weeks ago.

Nugent-Hopkins will look to continue his reign at the top of the rookie-scoring race when the Oilers take on the Minnesota Wild Friday night.

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