- Ben Sasse scores Sen. Ted Cruz’s endorsement for Nebraska Senate primary
- Beer-flavored lollipops make debut: ‘An All-American slam-dunk’
- Gabby Giffords’ gun control push gets high-profile speaker: Bill Clinton
- Tony Blair to warn West: Take sides against radical Islam
- Pfc. Bradley Manning’s name change to Chelsea heads to court
- NYPD’s attempt at positive Twitter outreach campaign proves to be an epic fail
- Michigan man among first in U.S. to get ‘bionic eye’
- JetBlue pilots vote to unionize; 2 previous attempts failed
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with ‘full-time’ robots
- Navy’s military dolphins may meet Putin’s porpoises in Black Sea
Oilers’ Nugent-Hopkins could be headed to juniors
EDMONTON, ALBERTA (AP) - As impressive as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been in his first seven NHL games, the rookie sensation has no guarantee he will remain in the big leagues all season.
Nugent-Hopkins leads rookies with five goals and seven points, but the 18-year-old center, taken by the Oilers with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, still can’t yet claim a permanent address.
With two games to go before Nugent-Hopkins reaches the nine-game threshold that would start his three-year, entry-level contract, fans are convinced the kid dubbed “The Nuge” should stick around.
But the Oilers haven’t made a decision, and Nugent-Hopkins says he doesn’t know if he will soon be sent back to his junior team _ the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.
“No. Still nothing,” Nugent-Hopkins said Monday. “Still just waiting. I’m going to go into (Tuesday) night and just play and see what happens after that.”
If Oilers coach Tom Renney and team management have made a decision on their leading scorer, they aren’t tipping their hand.
“Have I told him he’s staying? No,” Renney said.
“I don’t think we’ve really identified an internal timeline,” Renney said. “We talk about all our players every day, and he’s certainly one of the ones we talk about a lot. I can tell you that it’s all favorable, you know? The kid’s doing a good job. At the end of the day, and I’ve said many, many times, it’ll be the body of work we’ll look at.
“There are other players who are involved in this process, too, that we have to make decisions. It’s about a number of other players we have to pay attention to in terms of whether or not they’re part of the lineup.”
While Nugent-Hopkins shrugs off the silence, fans haven’t been as quiet. Renney had Oilers supporters buzzing when he cut the ice time of Nugent-Hopkins and linemates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle late in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
“I was surprised by the lack of intellect in as to why that would come about,” Renney said of the reaction to his comments. “Why wouldn’t I at least consider, never having said I would, what our team would look like without him in the lineup?
“If you want to know how valuable a guy is, you don’t really know how much you miss someone until you don’t have him anymore … I was kind of disappointed it grew the legs that it did, and people started to draw conclusions he might not play. I never, ever said he wouldn’t play in the next game. I never said that at all.”
Nugent-Hopkins was in the lineup against the New York Rangers on Saturday and bounced back from two games without a point with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win.
“He’s a point-a-game player,” Hall said. “He’s got five goals. It’s pretty hard to say that’s not NHL caliber.
“He was brought in to produce offense, and he’s done that in spades. That’s what he wanted to do. I’ve said all along that if he came in and did what he did best, and he’s even done more than that, he’d be a capable NHL player this year.”
The Oilers told Hall, selected first overall in the 2010 draft, he would stay last season before his fifth game. At the time, Hall had just one assist.
“Maybe they think what they’re doing, just keeping him on his heels a little bit, has worked,” Hall said of management’s insistence since draft day they won’t rush Nugent-Hopkins.
“Before the last game, Tom gave him a little bit of a scare. Jordan and I love playing with him. We don’t want our line to change, by any means, but we’ll stand by the team whatever they do because that’s who we play for. We all pull for all the best for Ryan. We want him to stay all year.”
Under the current CBA, there are two thresholds to consider with Nugent-Hopkins and NHL rookies.
If the Oilers play Nugent-Hopkins in 10 games this season, they use the first year of his entry-level contract. The Oilers can, however, return him to Red Deer before he plays 40 games without having this season count as service toward unrestricted free agency.
“I don’t really worry about it. I just try to take it day by day,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Right now, I’m here so I’m happy. I’m just doing everything I can to stay here, and I’m just going to keep doing that until I get told whether I am or whether I’m not.”
Nugent-Hopkins has made about as strong a case as possible to stay on a team that finished last in the NHL in back-to-back seasons.
“I try to just play and have fun,” he said. “I’m having a blast so far.”
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- IRS revokes conservative group's tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements: report
- Ministry of Truth: SCOTUS skeptical of law to police campaign 'lies'
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- HURT: President Obama's 'Selfie Doctrine'
- SOWELL: The high cost of liberalism, open spaces and affordable housing
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 'I'm not running for president'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.