The anticipation of Tuesday’s semi-annual meeting between two former No. 1 overall draft picks simmers in Pittsburgh, ready to pique Monday morning after the Steelers game on Sunday has passed. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins knows the hype. Even if it is now reserved for others, the swirling trade winds floating his name again as the Montreal Canadiens struggle. Six years after that quizzical 2011 National Hockey League Draft in which Nugent-Hopkins went No. 1, the stage here clearly belongs to Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Meanwhile Nugent-Hopkins quietly re-develops his game as a two-way centre, coming off a 43-point season that wasn’t half as productive as either McDavid (100 points) or Crosby (89) in 2016-17. Today, Nugent-Hopkins is more Mike Peca than Mike Bossy, more Guy Carbonneau than Guy Lafleur. “Since I came in, things have changed,” he admits, not unhappily but well aware of the challenge. Today, if you could sneak a peak at Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli’s organizational white board, you would find Nugent-Hopkins’s name third on the depth chart at centre ice, behind McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. When you are making $6 million annually for the next four seasons, that is an issue.
Nugent-Hopkins must master draws to justify salary, role on Oilers
Sportsnet | Oct 22