Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a message to deliver to those that questioned his draft ranking. Only the soft spoken Red Deer Rebel forward didn’t do it with words.
Instead, the Burnaby, BC native drove home his message with his performance in Team Orr’s 7-1 victory over Team Cherry at the 2011 CHL Top Prospects Game.
Two assists later and the player of the game nod for Team Orr doesn’t tell the entire story of how dominant ‘RNH’ was in a game that featured 19 of Future Considerations’ Top-30 prospects for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Everyone saw Nugent-Hopkins beautiful saucer pass over the stick of Team Cherry defenseman Myles Bell to Sven Bartschi (ranked 28th overall) for Team Orr’s second goal of the night, the nicest play of the evening. It was hard to miss the give-and-go between Bartschi and Nugent-Hopkins that resulted in Zack Phillips’ only tally of the evening.
But what scouts will particularly take note of, aside from the six-foot, 170-pound forward’s ability to control the pace and tempo of the game, is what Nugent-Hopkins did away from the puck.
For starters, RNH was a staple on Team Orr’s penalty kill that kept the opposition goalless on four opportunities.
Perhaps more surprising, it was Nugent-Hopkins who got front and centre with WHL foe Duncan Siemens after Bartschi was upended in the offensive zone. Nose to nose with arguably the nastiest defenseman in the WHL who has three inches and 30 pounds, RNH wasn’t going to back down until defenseman David Musil jumped in to protect his two teammates.
But perhaps most importantly in the eyes of scouts, Nugent-Hopkins broke up a shorthanded 2-on-1 with just three minutes remaining in the third period with Team Orr enjoying a 6-1 lead, chasing down the odd man rush from 150 feet down ice. It’s a play such as this that will stay with scouts as they debate player rankings leading up to the draft.
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!