The Edmonton Oilers selected the player who was unequivocally considered the best player in this entire 2011 NHL Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
In a draft that is not deep on high-end talent, with very few expected superstars, Nugent-Hopkins was a slam-dunk pick. The Oilers hope the 18-year-old center will fit in with their top selection last year, left winger Taylor Hall. Nugent-Hopkins had 106 points -- 31 goals and 75 assists -- with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The last FIVE first-round picks for the Oilers have been forwards.
Nugent-Hopkins has on-ice vision that's been compared to Wayne Gretzky and he has extraordinary playmaking ability. A very strong skater and dynamic with the puck, Nugent-Hopkins will look to make the jump to the NHL from the get-go. He is said to have a very high hockey IQ as well.
The only question surrounding him is whether he is strong enough. He's 6-feet tall and weighs 177 pounds. Bob McKenzie of TSN says that his skills will easily translate to the NHL level, but questions still remain about his ability withstand the grueling nature of the NHL and his physical strength.
NHL Central Scouting, TSN, International Scouting Services and The Hockey News all had Nugent-Hopkins as the best player in this draft.
The International Scouting Services has this to say about Nugent-Hopkins:
"He is the kind of player everybody wants on their team. Set up men with this vision and focus are extremely rare. He works hard, has an explosive skating stride and is extremely poised, patient and deceptive with the puck. Most of the plays he starts end up as goals."