St. Paul, MN – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels became the first Western Hockey League player in 15 years to be the first overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft, going to the Edmonton Oilers with the No. 1 pick at the 2011 NHL draft on Friday in St. Paul, MN.
“It’s a dream come true,” Nugent-Hopkins told TSN, following the announcement on Friday.
CLICK HERE to watch Nugent-Hopkins’ WHL Web TV Top Prospect Profile
The 18-year-old Burnaby, B.C., product led the Rebels and finished tied for third in the WHL in scoring with 106 points, including a League-leading 75 assists. He was the top-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of draft-eligible players. He becomes the first B.C.-born player to be selected first overall in the NHL draft.
Nugent-Hopkins is the first player from the WHL to be selected with the first pick in an NHL draft since 1996 when Prince Albert Raiders’ defenseman Chris Phillips was chosen first overall by the Ottawa Senators.
The first overall pick from the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Nugent-Hopkins was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 after scoring 24 goals and 65 points for the Rebels as a 16-year-old.
A gifted offensive star, Nugent-Hopkins boasts a level of vision, hockey sense, playmaking ability and puck-handling skills unparalleled by anyone else in the 2011 NHL draft class. As good a playmaker and passer as he is, Nugent-Hopkins also possesses a sharp and accurate shot which he can get off in a hurry, making him equally a threat to score as he is to set up his linemates. While his offensive skills draw the most accolades, Nugent-Hopkins also plays a strong, responsible defensive game. His intelligence, vision, hockey sense and overall skill set enable him to be a very effective player in all zones.
“First and foremost, it’s the person that he is that really sets him apart…he has a genuine passion for the game that allows him to use his abilities to their fullest, and he’s a very mature, grounded young man,” said Red Deer Rebels’ head coach and VP of hockey operations Jesse Wallin. “His talent level is special, and he’s gifted in so many ways.”
“His vision, his creativity, his intelligence and his understanding of the game, and the skill package that goes with it is what make him so special. He’s got tremendous hands and passing ability, he’s got a great release, he’s a great skater, he’s got tremendous agility…it’s just a really special package and a personality and make-up that allows him to utilize that skill set.
“He’s been a great kid to coach, he’s got a ton of character, he’s a great person to be around, and he’s one of those people that, if you get to know him, you will want nothing but the best for him,” said Wallin. “It’s not necessarily fair to compare him with an already-established player; he’s a guy who people will be comparing other players to in years to come.”
Nugent-Hopkins suited up for Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2010 Memorial for Ivan Hlinka tournament, leading the team to a Gold medal after scoring the game-winning goal in the championship game. He also suited up for Team Pacific at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and attended Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp in December 2010.
He played for Team WHL in the 2010 Subway Super Series, and also played for Team Orr at the 2011