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100 factors for Oilers' Nugent-Hopkins: Lifelike expectations or an excessive amount of to ask?

Can Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get wherever close to the profession excessive 104 factors he scored final season?

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A talented, however not particularly motivated, former Edmonton Oiler from the 90s as soon as stated famously — ‘the issue with scoring 30 objectives is that they’ll anticipate it from you yearly.’

That’s the neighbourhood Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is shifting into this season, minus the having an issue with it.

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After placing up essentially the most prolific season of his 12-year profession, adopting extra of a shooter mentality and smashing his private greatest by a whopping 35 factors, Nugent-Hopkins joined the uncommon air of the NHL’s Century Membership final yr.

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The query heading into this season is whether or not he can keep there. Was ninth in league scoring with 37 objectives and 67 assists only a one-off and he returns to being the 50- to 60-point participant he’s all the time been or has he unlocked one thing and pushing triple digits is the brand new regular?

It’s a serious storyline for the 2023-24 marketing campaign. If Nugent-Hopkins can choose up the place he left off final season, or simply get someplace close to it, it’s going to have a big influence on what the Oilers accomplish this season.

He’s not promising he’ll hit 100 factors once more, and a taking pictures share that shot as much as 18.4 final season after a profession common of 11.2 suggests he may come again to earth statistically, however the 30-year-old ahead doesn’t see why he can’t have simply as massive an influence.

“I don’t learn about points-wise,” he stated. “However I’m going to proceed to attempt develop my recreation. I assumed the season earlier than (50 factors in 2021-22) I wasn’t scoring and I misplaced a misplaced of confidence in my contact across the internet and I discovered it once more final yr.

“I must proceed on that and develop my confidence in my capacity. I need to proceed to shoot the puck and bear down on my probabilities and play that 200-foot recreation whether or not I’m on the wing or at centre. I do know I can have an effect on play on each side of the rink.”

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There isn’t a query about that. Whether or not it’s offensively, defensively, on the penalty kill or on the all-world energy play, Nugent-Hopkins touches nearly each space of the workforce. If he’s having a great yr, it’s greater than possible the Oilers are having a great yr.

So he spent his summer season engaged on his bodily energy, his pace and his contact across the internet, effectively conscious that taking part in in Edmonton’s high six is a statistical springboard that comes with its share of duty.

“Taking part in with nice gamers goes a great distance and on a workforce like this we’ve got so many weapons that particular person success is simpler to search out.”

Nugent-Hopkins isn’t alone in having to observe up a profession yr. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman additionally set private bests by a large margins and shall be anticipated to flirt with these totals once more to ensure that the Oilers to be nearly as good as they had been final yr, by no means thoughts higher.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a aim in opposition to the Ottawa Senators throughout second interval NHL motion at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Tuesday March 14, 2023. Photograph by David Bloom /Postmedia

That’s what occurs when a workforce raises the bar — the bar stays there till they show they will elevate it once more. Or show that they will’t.

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“I positively need to assist produce on the offensive aspect,” stated Nugent-Hopkins. “However everyone’s inner objectives on the finish of the day come again to the workforce and having success as a workforce. In the event you play effectively as a person it’s going to have an effect on the workforce in a optimistic approach, that’s all the time been my mindset. A season like final yr ought to give us confidence and we should always come out rolling.

“I believe we should always all be excited however on the identical time you possibly can’t get forward of your self. We’ve got to return out and work each day to have success.”

The stress is ramping up on everybody individually and on the Oilers as a workforce. Defenceman Darnell Nurse, who’s now being judged on a $9.25 million contract, says navigating the rising expectations and stress is all a part of the equation when a workforce believes it is able to push by way of.

“The aim must be in our thoughts each day,” he stated. “You don’t need to put stress on your self and have it weighing on you all season however, on the identical time, there must be a way of urgency in our group, urgency to push one another each day and to win video games early and take our play up all year long.

“You don’t need to be in a scenario the place you’re simply discovering your recreation in January and February after which clawing again for the playoffs. You need to have a great begin and carry that momentum.”

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