CALGARY, AB -- It's hard to escape the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hype, even three hours south of Edmonton.
The 18 year-old has potted four goals since the 2011-12 season and some fans have even been brazen enough to compare the youngster to Wayne Gretzky despite the fact his resume features just three NHL games.
While it is still early, his performance has spoken volumes and it seems very unlikely the Oilers brass will be sending Nugent-Hopkins back to Brent Sutter's Red Deer Rebels after his nine-game trial.
"It is what it is but for sure, I'm happy for him," Sutter said. "He's a good young man, he's a great young man. That's what makes him unique too, just the way he is as a person. Special player, special kid."
The Flames head coach knows Nugent-Hopkins better than most due to the forward's two seasons in Red Deer. Sutter is owner, governor and president of the Rebels so he's seen the centerman's progression first-hand.
"Ryan's a very good player. But as we go along here, you know there is going to be more and more attention paid to it. It's very, very early in the year yet but Hoppy's a phenomenal player.
"Each game is going to get tougher and tougher because there's more recognition you put upon yourself because the way that you play. And he's obviously played well."