Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ready or not, here he comes

There is a lot of talk these days about the latest #1 overall pick in the NHL Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (RNH).  Most notably the talk is about whether he can make the Edmonton Oilers this year, or does he head back to Red Deer.  There is no need for this talk to continue, he simply has to stay.

Bold statement? Just plain stupid?  Let me explain.  The fact is there is nothing to gain by sending him back to the WHL, and everything to lose.  Sending RNH back to his WHL team in Red Deer he can only meet expectations, or fail to meet them.  Expectations are so high for him that there is no way to exceed them, and anything but a spectacular season would be deemed a failure.  How would he handle something failure and the pressure that comes with it?  We all know the pressure cooker of a market that Edmonton is, and how fickle the fans can be.  Imagine he goes to Red Deer and other players outshine him, he is not the top scorer, and Red Deer doesn't do well?  The local talk shows would be a constant stream of callers declaring the pick a mistake, RNH a failure and calling for a trade, the firing of Tamblowe, and Stu "The Magnificent Bastard" McGregor's record would be forever tarnished.  And even if his play isn't poor and his season not considered a failure based on performance, when was the last time the first overall pick didn't make the team?  How would he take it being the first to have that happen in so long?  A failure of a season in the eyes of fans and the media is the most likely outcome if he is sent back, and could ruin him as a player in the long term.

On the other hand if he stays the expectations are minimal.  He is young, he hasn't matured enough yet, and is not expected to light it up.  Look at Tyler Seguin, he didn't play impact minutes, or even every game.  But I would suggest almost no one called his season a failure, and even had Boston not won the cup he would have been confident coming in to next season with very little fan or media pressure to drastically improve over the year before.  In the same way RNH can come into Edmonton, especially with the center depth they added today, and can play soft minutes, sit games, and play with little to no pressure.  There is no down side to him staying this year and playing; ready or not he is here to stay.

I know many will still talk about this as if there is a question of whether he should stay, but I believe the decision is obvious, so lets move on to more important topics, like what is going to happen with Hemsky...

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