Four years into his professional career, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is ready to take the next step. He’s been thrust into a key roll on the Oilers since entering the league as the first-overall pick in 2011.
The 2014-15 season saw Nugent-Hopkins post a career-high 24 goals. He also tied a career high in points with 56 in 76 games.
At Oilers Hockey School in Leduc on Thursday, the centre reflected on the improvements he’s made in his game, particularly this past season.
“I think I was better at finding the balance between the offensive side and defensive side,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “If you worry too much about one or the other, it might hurt the other one. But I think if you play solid at both ends of the rink you create more offence for everybody on the ice. I think I started to find that a bit better last year. I think a big thing in this league is just being consistent. That’s something that I want to keep working on and try to keep the same mentality and the same work ethic every night.”
Nugent-Hopkins has also put on more muscle. The centre says he weighed about 175 pounds at the draft, but is currently around 195.