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Roenick: Nugent-Hopkins clicking, Ovechkin missing

by Jeremy Roenick
NHL Network analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for this season. Look for new entries from "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

A rising rookie and a falling superstar highlight my blog this week. Read on to find out what's on my mind:

What's clicking?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Center - EDM
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 29
SOG: 55 | +/-: 4
With the instant impact of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it just amazes me that the Edmonton Oilers even considered sending this kid back to junior instead of keeping him for the season. At 18 years old and being the No. 1 draft pick, and then to come in and make such an instant impact while making things look so easy is totally amazing to me.

This kid has impressed me with his maturity, with his sense of the game, with how knowledgeable he is, the way he reads the game. For a rookie to have 29 points in 27 games, with 12 goals and 17 assists -- I don't know if we've seen a rookie this good in a long time.

He couldn't be on a more perfect team, also. This is a very young Edmonton team, with guys close to his age that are learning, as well. He has the ability to grow with a group that he's going to feel comfortable with, and it's going to allow him to have a lot of playing time early in his career with a lot of openings on special teams. He will be able to mature at a good rate.

The Edmonton Oilers deserve credit for doing a great job with an extremely young and talented Nugent-Hopkins, who I think we all can see is only going to get better.

I have to give an honorary mention to Luke Adam in Buffalo. He is having a solid first half of his first full NHL season. He seems very confident and appears to be on a team that matches his style of play at both ends of the rink.

Then there is Matt Read, my Bemidji State Beavers guy. He has introduced me to Bemidji State with his play with the Flyers.

These are three rookies that we can look forward to watching for many years in the National Hockey League.

What's missing?

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 19
SOG: 89 | +/-: -7
Alex Ovechkin is one of my favorite players in the National Hockey League. My son wears No. 8 on his jersey and uses Ovechkin in NHL12 every single time he plays it.

But Ovechkin's play this season is very concerning. I don't know what is going on. I don't know what the issue is with him. There are a lot of rumors going around that the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau had something to do with Ovechkin.

Regardless, Ovechkin has to look in the mirror and decide what kind of player he wants to be. Does he want to be known and remembered as one of the greatest players in the National Hockey League? Or does he want to wallow in mediocrity like he is right now while continuing to do commercials and sign endorsement deals?

One thing is for sure -- right now what he is doing is not working.

In the past couple seasons we've debated about the best player in the world -- is it Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? Now it's not even close, and now there have been a couple of players that have bypassed Ovechkin in that discussion.

That is unacceptable from a player of Ovechkin's stature.

I'm not saying he's out of shape, but there is something missing from Ovechkin's game that only he knows and only he can find. I really hope he finds it and gets back on a roll, starts scoring goals and playing the way we know he can play, because he is one of the most electric players in the League; one that can do it all.

Right now he's one of the reasons why the Washington Capitals are struggling. He is not concentrating night in and night out on being the Capitals' best player.

What is it going to take for him to get himself back into the discussion for who is the best player in the world? Only Alex Ovechkin knows.
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