Aside from the Pens 2-3 loss to the Panthers, the NHL saw a ton of blow out wins on Saturday, including one incredible performance from the Oilers. They lost to Dallas 1-4 on Tuesday, however on Saturday they slautered the Blackhawks 9-2 and then won again last night when they played the Predators 6-2.
In the past few years, the Oilers have unfortunately (or fortunately if you are looking at the long term and how the Pens experienced the same phenomenon not long ago) had the distinction of drawing first in the NHL draft.
In 2008, they chose Jordan Eberle first over all. He joined the team in the 2010 season and scored a short handed goal in his NHL debut. Even though he missed part of the season to injury, he still was the leading scorer for the team with 18 goals.
Taylor Hall was chosen by the Oilers in the 2010 draft as their first round pick, first overall. Hall went straight to work in the NHL, getting his first point in his second game and first goal a few weeks later. He made it to the 2011 All Star Game as a rookie. His first career hat trick was a natural one, in a game against the Thrashers.
Now we have this year’s first pick overall, 18 year old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He scored his first NHL goal against the Penguins in his NHL debut on October 9th. This kid is on fire. He scored his first hat trick in his third game of the season. He is currently 10th in the league in points, with 22. He has 8 goals and 14 assists and plenty of season to go. The Oilers kept RNH in their lineup on October 28th instead of sending him back to juniors.
Nugget (my nickname for him haha) is already my pick for the Calder Memorial Trophy this season. We’ll see how he progresses, but you can bet he will be in contention. He is fun to watch. Makes smart decisions with the puck and seems to have that special “hockey sense” that players like Sidney Crosby have. They just know what to do and make the players around them work harder.
Nugget has been centering Eberle and Hall on the first line in Edmonton. Last night Eberle put up 2 goals, Hall and Nugget each had 2 assists. They all got points on one of Eberle’s goals in the first period. This line is producing
Edmonton are sitting at 7th in the Western Conference and second in the North West Division, right below the Wild.
The Pens had luck with their first round draft picks when the team was down, acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury first overall in 2003, Malkin second overall in 2004, Crosby first overall in 2005, and Jordan Staal second overall in 2006. Our core of young players have had years to mature their game and become the team’s leaders as Sid wears the “C” and Geno and Staalsy don their well deserved ”A”s on their sweaters.
This could very well be the Oilers within the next few years as these three kids along with Magnus Pajaarvi (who they acquired in the 2009 draft as the 10th overall pick) develop their game and eventually inherit the team from current veterans like Ryan Smyth.
As long as the Oilers can find some more consistency in their wins and scoring from game to game, this will be a team to keep an eye on.