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MAIN CAMP: Nugent-Hopkins hopes forward depth returns regular linemates

"You build chemistry, you start to feel each other out, you learn more about each other... I think it'd be nice for me to play consistently with somebody," forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won't need a tour.

The longest-tenured player on the Oilers roster arrived at Oilers Main Camp on Thursday to begin his ninth season with the club, but may need to make a few more introductions than necessary to get acquainted with a fresh coaching staff, management, and more than a handful of new teammates.

"When you don't have success, changes always start out as a positive experience," the Burnaby, B.C. native said of the new campaign. "Then you just have to build from it."

Nugent-Hopkins already built some klout with incoming head coach Dave Tippett at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and hopes the onboarding of the new bench boss, coupled the stability of General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland up top, can help create a greater feeling of consistency in their play early this season.

Video: MAIN CAMP | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 09.12.19

"Ken, obviously he's a guy that's going to provide stability up top. That's going to give us confidence and help us play more consistently," Nugent-Hopkins said. "With Tippett, the first thing with him is his structure. Every team he's coached has had good structure and that can go a long way with our team. If we start to struggle, if we don't have success, we stick within that structure and he's going to make sure we do. We can play with success from there instead of abandoning it.

"I do know Tippett a little bit from the World Cup a couple of years ago, and he's a really approachable guy. I think communication with him is going to be really good, and I think that'll help us out."

The 26-year-old can expect to fill the role of second-line centre once again this season for the Oilers behind the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up top, with the choice of players best suited to occupy his flanks up for debate in the coming weeks during Main Camp and Pre-Season.

Tippett has spoken recently of using pairs to set lines' foundations, which could offer Nugent-Hopkins a direct link to summer acquisition James Neal and having the remaining spots filled from a depth of forward talent that's poised to amplify the level of competition at Camp.

 Video: MAIN CAMP | Dave Tippett 09.12.19

"It always looks good on paper in the summer," Tippett said. "You think you have all the places filled, but ultimately right now if you look at that whiteboard there's jobs that are open.

"I got a pretty good idea of some pairs at forward I'd like to get together and how each line would like to look, but it's until you get into Training Camp and see them in games, that's hard to say. I got a list of about 10 players I'd say we really need to find out about, so they'll play a lot of exhibition games and that's what they're for."

Depending on which avenue Tippett decides to take, Nugent-Hopkins hopes it's for the long haul in a bid to develop early chemistry.

"Whoever it is, whatever happens, it'll be nice to build some chemistry," he said.

"Even if things don't go well, I still feel like it's nice to stick with guys and turn it around together. You build chemistry, you start to feel each other out, you learn more about each other especially if you haven't played with them before, so I think it'd be nice for me to play consistently with somebody."

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