Right from his early beginnings, until last night, Ryan has done nothing to show even the greatest of skeptics that he is not a elite player. If Ryan plays beyond his 9 game stint he is sure to get, will he have enough elite level skill to become Edmonton's '1st Calder trophy winner'? I know it's early, I know, Hall was unable to do it, Tavares was unable to do it, no Oiler has ever done it. The competition for the Calder will be fierce this year. Should Nugent-Hopkins be sent back to Jr hockey for one more year, IMO , he would be a lock providing no injuries were to occur. However sending him back, may actually slow down his growth. I hear how some believe, being sent back to Jr can not hurt a players development, but there are many factors not taken into consideration when doing so. There are some (and only a few) that only increase and grow according to the level of talent they play with. I believe Ryan is one of those players. His game elevates as his competition elevates. That is not to say he should stay with the Oilers, I say let his game dictate if he is ready or not.
People have said Nugent-Hopkins was able to score and play the way we see in the highlights in this video, only because he was playing against Jr's. That may be so, but he played that way as a rookie his first year at every level. Now entering this season, he played this way against other prospects at the rookie tourney in B.C. Now he continues to play the same way throughout his pre-season. Yes, we are getting closer to regular NHL competition, but my point is , he is only playing better as time goes on.
The praise this guy gets from veteran NHL players is amazing. He has already had praises from even Ryan Smyth saying how is vision is so much like 'Gretzky' on the ice. Taylor Hall has even come out now and said how he can play with the big boys. Eberle being more cautious with his words has pretty much said the same. he's a elite level talent, and his ability to think the game at a elite level, is even more important then his elite level skill. He can forecheck well, backcheck well, is incredible in puck pursuit and can come out of the corners with the puck against much larger and more veteran players. His ability to retrieve the puck back upon loosing possession is incredible. Ryan is not afraid of going into the tough places if needed. He is a total package, and the only question that remains, is he 'Calder Trophy' candidate material? Could there be a better candidate to bring home a trophy that has eluded the Oilers franchise their entire existence?
It's early, real early, but how can you not get excited about the future, when you see a game like you did last night out of a barely turned 18 year old player. Oh yeah! He just happens to be a EDMONTON OILER!
For continued information on Oiler and Barons news and 2012 NHL draft watch, you can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/revingev