If Red Deer Rebels defenseman Matt Dumba needs to lean on someone for advice on how to handle himself in his draft year, he need not look far.
Across the dressing room may be a good place to start.
Should he fail to make the Edmonton Oilers out of training camp, Dumba will have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, to answer any and all draft inquiries.
The ins and outs from playing in a draft season is fresh in the mind of Nugent-Hopkins, having just gone through the process himself. A soft-spoken individual, Nugent-Hopkins is ready to impart his wisdom on his younger teammate.
“I’d love to help him out,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s a great kid. Anything I can help him out I will definitely do.”
Whether Nugent-Hopkins knows it or not, he’s already helped Dumba. The draft eligible defenseman kept a close eye on how the Oilers prospect handled himself during overwhelming attention from both media and scouting community.
“It’s pretty cool to see how Hoppy handled himself throughout the year,” Dumba said. “He’s so humble. There’s not much he does wrong. He handles the media with so much humility. He’s a great person all around.”
That’s not the only place Dumba got to observe Nugent-Hopkins.
Dumba, set to represent Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia next week, also got a first class lesson on the ice from the Burnaby, BC. native as well. Dumba, a defenseman, had to line up against Nugent-Hopkins, a centre, often in practice.
It’s made Dumba a better defenseman, he admitted.
“Being in practice with him every day, you sure get a workout,” said Dumba, a Calgary, AB. native. “He’ll have you chasing the puck. You got to try to read him as much as you can. It’s pretty hard.”
Last season, Nugent-Hopkins finished with 37 goals and 106 points, fourth in the Western Hockey League.
Dumba, named the recipient of the Jim Piggott Award as the league’s top rookie after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games, may have shown Nugent-Hopkins a thing or two as well.
The six-foot, 175-pound defenseman realizes there is still a lot of work to be done before he can garner the attention of scouts the way Nugent-Hopkins had NHL executives clamoring over him.
“You can always improve in areas, Dumba admitted. “I like my skating, but not to say I cant get bigger, faster stronger. I like my shot, but it can always get harder. The big one is the d-zone that I want to work on.”
If he does all this, Nugent-Hopkins thinks Dumba, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, will be just fine.
“He’s going to have a great year this year and I feel he’s going to get drafted very high,” he offered.
Especially if Nugent-Hopkins is back in Red Deer to help him along.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!