As the longest-tenured Oilers player, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would know a deep Edmonton Oilers team when he sees one. And, apparently, this season, he sees one. When talking to the media early into the team’s 2020-21 training camp, the center-turned-winger noted he’s excited about the additions to the team this year and said this is “as deep a group as we’ve ever had.”
Obviously, Nugent-Hopkins can’t speak to a time before his arrival, but he’s been with the Oilers since being drafted in 2011 and he’s been through a lot of ups and downs with this group. More often than not, the team hasn’t been terribly successful, but he has a couple of postseason appearances on his resume now and there are some lofty expectations this group will get back there, fighting their way through a North Division consisting all highly-skilled Canadian teams.
The consensus seems to be that the Oilers did some good things, adding key depth pieces to some of the best skill in the NHL. Many believe they are much deeper lines one-through-four than in year’s past and Nugent-Hopkins agrees. He said:
“Ya, I think that’s the feeling among the whole group right now. We’ve been able to do some 5-on-5 skates together and the pace has been really high, a lot of plays being made. Just by seeing that, it gives you a lot of confidence. Seeing the guys that we brought in and knowing what they’re capable of, it’s exciting. I think you’re bang on, this is as deep a group as we’ve ever had here.”
Is Nugent-Hopkins Right?
With the additions of players like Kyle Turris, Dominik Kahun, Jesse Puljujarvi, Slater Koekkoek, and others, the Oilers look well-equipped at the forward group.
There are still questions on the blue line and in goal, meaning the forwards may have to do more than just pull their own weight. If Edmonton’s high-end skill and depth can keep the opposition in their own zone, perhaps where they’re not as deep, it might not matter.
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