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They said Nugent-Hopkins would get hurt — and so far, they’ve sort of been right

Aug 15, 2013, 2:36 PM EDT

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Getty Images

Even before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was chosen first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2011, there were questions about his ability to survive, physically, in the NHL.

An “impossibly skinny” kid, many felt Nugent-Hopkins was too delicate, too weak, and that he’d be beset by injuries after the league’s leviathans were through with him.

Well, two years later and Nugent-Hopkins does indeed have a disturbing injury log to go with the 76 points he’s scored in 102 games.

In April, the 20-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. At last glance, the Oilers were unsure if he’d be ready for the regular season.

Now, it’s unfair to assume Nugent-Hopkins has had shoulder issues only because of his size. But the fact he’s needed surgery at such a young age is, at the very least, cause for concern.

“We had to make a judgement call,” his agent, Rick Valette, told the Edmonton Journal. “We talked about it all season. The general feeling was that it wasn’t necessary for him to miss games. The conclusion was that he just keep playing and doing his rehab and strengthening his shoulder. Just before the world juniors we had it checked out a lot. It was determined that his strength was fine, his mobility was fine and his range of motion was good. Yes, he still had a bit of a problem, but he was fine to play.”

Fine to play, yes. But fine to play well?

“It wasn’t the most productive year of my life,” Nugent-Hopkins said of his 2013 campaign in which he scored just four goals, with 20 assists, in 40 games. “I wanted to be more productive, but I thought I took some steps in other parts of my game, so I’ve just got to keep working on that. Obviously, I want to be an offensive guy and I’ve got to keep working on that.”

For his sake, as well as the Oilers’, here’s to hoping injuries won’t stop his massive potential from being realized.

More Edmonton Oilers day on PHT:

MacTavish made moves, but was he ‘bold’ enough?

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Start working out kid.

  2. ron05342 - Aug 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    “Sort of” ? Jason, I mean, really?

    It’s “sort have.” Sheesh.

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM


  3. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    I know it’s the curse of having next to nothing on the team, but Oilers have been rushing all of their top draft picks to the NHL. Even Taylor Hall’s had his share of injuries early in his NHL career. He’s missed around 20 games in both of his first two seasons. RNH has been much of the same, even a little worse off than Hall. Hopefully Nuge can get back in form too.

  4. bombscarejr - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    He needs to get faster & more agile with some muscle. He can add some meat gradually but going full goon isn’t going to work for this guy.

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