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Get To Know Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

by Kyle Shohara / Colorado Avalanche

After capping off a breakout season in just his second full year in the Western Hockey League, Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found himself at the top of NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for North American skaters.  

Touted by many as the most skilled player in this year’s 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Nugent-Hopkins’ dazzling array of offensive skills placed him among league leaders during the 2010-11 season.

The Burnaby, B.C., native led the WHL in assists (75) and finished tied for third overall in points (106); a 41-point increase from the 2009-10 regular season.  Nugent-Hopkins also co-led the Rebels in scoring with 11 points in nine playoff games.

Nugent-Hopkins is already drawing comparisons to the likes of future Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic and current Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. 

An explosive skater with smooth, fluid strides, Nugent-Hopkins handles the puck exceptionally well.  Able to make plays and create space along the corners and in traffic, Nugent-Hopkins creates scoring chances for himself and makes everyone around him better.  In addition, his on-ice vision and awareness is considered to be the best that scouts have seen in years.

“A couple of people high up – and not naming names – said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99 (Wayne Gretzky).  That’s the highest compliment you can get,” said NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan.
“He’s one of those guys that knows where everyone is and where they should be and where the puck should go,” Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald said.  “He can dish both right or left, either on his backhand or forehand with that kind of vision. But not just the vision, but the fact he can lay that puck between the skate boot and the skate blade – that’s hard to find.”

Though he only weighed 164 pounds to begin the season, the 6-foot center said he added an additional five pounds since the end of the year and plans on adding between 5 and 10 pounds during the offseason.  Nugent-Hopkins acknowledges his need for improvement.

“I know that’s the area I need to improve on the most, and I’m really going to work on it this summer,” he told  If he reaches his goal weight, Nugent-Hopkins feels he’s ready to make the jump into the NHL.

Below are highlights of his 2010-11 season:
- Led the WHL in assists (75), finished tied for third overall in points (106) and was named an Eastern Conference First-Team All-Star after helping the Rebels to a first place finish in the Central Division.

- Finished the 2010-11 regular season with 31-75=106 points in 69 GP, marking a 41-point increase from the season prior.

- Had a nine-game assist streak from Jan. 23, 2011 – Feb. 11, 2011, scoring 6-20=26 points during that span.

Did you know?

- He served as assistant captain with Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, where he scored the game-winning goal against the United States earning him a gold medal.

- His 24-41=65 points during the 2009-10 season earned him the WHL’s Rookie of the Year Award at the age of 16.

- His full name is Ryan Noel Jeremy Nugent-Hopkins.

- Always has to eat an apple and listen to “Savior” by Rise Against before every game.

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