After some issues in nearly every aspect of their game early on this season, the Edmonton Oilers look like they’ve turned a corner and are now in a position where a playoff spot looks like it could be in reach.
They’re still waiting on a few players to join them this season, including last year’s Calder Trophy runner-up, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins seems to be stuck in a sophomore slump, at least as far as his numbers are concerned. Given their lack of depth in the middle, it’s something that needs to be fixed quickly.
As the no. 1 overall pick, Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t have had a much better rookie season. He posted 52 points in 62 games, almost half of which came on the power play. He was every bit the forward the Oilers had hoped they were drafting in the summer of 2011. Not the case this year.
Nugent-Hopkins has only 11 points on the season, in 27 games. He’s missed just the one game because of an upper-body injury, but you have to wonder if that early season injury is playing any part in his performance. He’s currently out again, this time with an illness, rather than an injury.
So what exactly is the problem for RNH this season? He has top flight wingers, in Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Of course, the fact that Hall has just six goals on the season and Eberle has only seven, after the two combined for 61 last season. That’s taking away some of the assists that Nuge could have on the stat sheet.
He’s still seeing plenty of ice time at full strength and on the power play. Not much is different. Outside of his shooting percentage, which is roughly half of what it was last season, with the puck going in just five percent of the time.
It should only be a matter of time before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the rest of the Oilers’ top line begins to put it together. We’re starting to see this roster click a bit, and having Nugent-Hopkins putting up the type of numbers he did last year would be a tremendous boost.