The Nuge!

With 8 goals and 14 assists in his first 21 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is proving that he’s the real deal. Selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, this 18-year old could be the NHL’s next superstar.

Nugent-Hopkins played midget hockey for the Vancouver NW Giants during the 2008–09 season. During the 2008 Mac’s AAA midget hockey tournament, Nugent-Hopkins was named the Tournament MVP and was named the 2008 BC Minor Hockey Player of the Year, in recognition of his sportsmanship, leadership, and hockey skill.

Nugent-Hopkins made his WHL debut with the Rebels as an underage player during the 2008–09 WHL season. He played in five games, scoring two goals and four assists. The following year, Nugent-Hopkins played in 67 games and was awarded the WHL rookie of the year award. He was a finalist for the CHL rookie of the year but lost to Matt Puempel.

He played his first game for the Oilers in the team’s first game of the 2011–12 season, a shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-tying goal with less than 5 minutes remaining. In his third NHL game, he scored his first NHL hat trick. On November 19, 2011 he recorded an amazing five assists versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

A creative playmaker, Nugent-Hopkins has tremendous anticipation and an ability to find open ice. While he is undersized, it’s easy to forget that he is only 18-years old. He is very effective operating in tight spaces and is very comfortable putting himself in high traffic situations. He is a smart player, which is easy to see by his excellent positioning, angles taken, and impressive defensive game.

Rookie cards of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are available in most 2011-12 products. In addition, Nugent-Hopkins cards are also in 2009-10 and 2010-11 Heroes and Prospects products from In The Game. Many of these hobby boxes are available at Canada Card World.

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Since the 2004-05 season, In The Game has featured the top young stars from the Canadian Hockey League and American Hockey League and this year’s edition is no exception to the rule.

“When we first released Heroes and Prospects six years ago, the reaction from collectors was incredibly positive and we have tried to make the product stronger with each passing season,” said In The Game’s President, Dr. Brian H. Price. “We spent a lot of time developing the checklist and listening to collectors and I think this year’s set was truly made for them.”

Last week, International Scouting Services released an updated list of their top 30 prospects heading into the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and many of them are a part of the 2010-11 edition of ITG Heroes and Prospects.

Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs was rated first overall on the list and he is featured in the base card set as well as on autograph, game-used memorabilia and autographed game-used memorabilia cards. He will also be on Canada’s roster for the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship. Couturier was followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, who could certainly make a push for the top spot as well.

There are a few exciting international prospects in Heroes and Prospects this year and two of them have the potential to go in the top 10 at the NHL Entry Draft. Adam Larsson was ranked third by ISS and Victor Rask was ranked at number 10. Both are presently playing in Sweden and should garner a great deal of attention from scouts.

“We take great pride in our ability to track down some of the greatest young players from all over the world,” said Price. “It sometimes takes a great deal of research to find these players, but it is ultimately worth the effort as the product becomes stronger.”

The Ontario Hockey League also has three big potential draftees on cardboard as well with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers and Brandon Saad of the Saginaw Spirit making their Heroes and Prospects debuts. Other potential first round picks include:

  • Dougie Hamilton (Niagara IceDogs)
  • Matthew Puempel (Peterborough Petes)
  • David Musil (Vancouver Giants)
  • Tomas Jurco (Saint John Sea Dogs)
  • Shane McColgan (Kelowna Rockets)
  • Ty Rattie (Portland Winter Hawks)

Some of the players listed above could also potentially be a part of the Class of 2011 non-memorabilia insert set which returns this season. Last year, In The Game introduced this exciting interactive concept but has made it even better by creating a mystery element. Each card will have a letter on the front which will represent a player to be announced two weeks after the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

In The Game’s 2010-11 Heroes and Prospects will be available on January 20, 2011 at Canada Card World. For a complete checklist and additional information please visit www.itgtradingcards.com.

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