The Edmonton Oilers were supposed to be in great shape once the lockout ended. Four of their young stars had been playing in the AHL during the lockout, where they were scoring at will and staying active while other veteran players were trying to find somewhere to get an open skate in. Unfortunately, those players have struggled in the NHL this season, and the Oilers will once again miss the playoffs. The most disappointing of these youngsters is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had seen a drastic drop in production after being a Calder Trophy finalist last season.
A shoulder injury has prematurely ended Nugent-Hopkins’ season, the second time in his two seasons that he will miss time due to injury. He came back strong last season, scoring 18 goals and collecting 52 points. He managed just four goals for the Oilers this season, and while he still ended up with 24 points this season has to be one the team hopes he can bounce back from moving forward. While Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle also found AHL success with the Oklahoma City Barons, they haven’t exactly been All-Stars for the Oilers either. They have performed better than Nugent-Hopkins, who scored a third of the goals put up by slightly disappointing rookie Nail Yakupov.
The talent of this team is undeniable and still provides hope for the future. When they figure out how to put everything together, the Oilers will be a dangerous team and perennial playoff contender. For now, they are once again left with questions about what went wrong, and have to be hoping Nugent-Hopkins’ career won’t continue to be plagued by injuries.