Before you shoot the messenger, I am in no way saying Nugent-Hopkins will or ever can match what the 'Great One' did in the record books. It's the way they both play the game. It's the way they move on the ice, see the ice, glide on the ice and let their actions speak more then their voice.
Here is a video clip of some of what Gretzky looked like on the ice during his days as a Oiler. I can not but help myself, to notice so many similarities between the way they play the game.
As an 18-year-old NHL rookie in 1979, he was conspicuously underweight at just 160 pounds. Many critics stated at that time that Gretzky was "too small, too wiry, and too slow to be a force in the NHL". Although he managed to increase his weight to 185 pounds by the end of his career in 1999, that was still much less than the NHL average. Gretzky always finished dead last in peripheral vision, flexibility and strength for early season testing with the Oilers, and could only bench press 140 pounds. Gretzky had such an uncanny ability to judge the position of the other players on the ice that many suspected he enjoyed some kind of extrasensory perception. Gretzky said he sensed other players more than he actually saw them. His intelligence and reading of the game was unrivaled, and he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. Gretzky seemed to be able to, in effect, slow down time. most elite athletes have "more room in the flow of time" than ordinary athletes.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a special player that only answers the bell when critics try to pick away at his game or his ability to perform at the next level. Take a look in this clip at the way Nugent-Hopkins plays on the ice and you will notice once again some similarities in the way they both play.
Ryan was questioned if at barely 6'1 and 164 lbs he could withstand the rigours of the NHL as a 18 year old. 4 months later Nugent-Hopkins started the season at 174 lbs and went on to display the same skills at the NHL level as he did in the WHL. This year, reports are coming out saying Ryan is now weighing in at 185 lbs. That would put him at Gretzky's size when he was wrapping up his career. Ryan has the intangibles required to battle in the corners with guys much larger then him, and more often than not, RNH comes out with the puck. He doesn't shy away from battling bigger players. Ryan is brilliant with his edge work and has the ability to out-manoeuvre defenders. His balance is notable. Most often he will be engaged from the back along the sideboards, stay up, and slide off the contact. Ryan's puck skills are elite and enough can't be said with what he does with the puck. His combination of vision, hands, and passing ability are a sight to see and separate him from other players.
With his elite hockey sense and agility, RNH does things at a quick and efficient pace while creating a ton of offense. When watching him on the ice you will notice he keeps his head up at all times, like his head is on a swivel, which helps him avoid checks but also gives him that uncanny ability to get passes through sticks and players to his open man who in most cases has a open net.
He is a perfectionist, who has a strong work ethic and gives lots of attention to detail. RNH is a cerebral player who can fool you when watching him. Just when you think you have kept him at bay, the puck is in the net. An underrated strength he has is his commitment to defence. He works hard to be in the right position and his stick in the right lanes. RNH makes the game look simple and slow out on the ice. He is a Very focused player. Hard worker and humble
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