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Welcome mat out for Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spent his first day on ice as a member of the Oilers Monday at the team's...

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spent his first day on ice as a member of the Oilers Monday at the team's development camp. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 PM ET

EDMONTON - On a rare nice summer day in Edmonton, there aren’t many good reasons to be inside a hockey rink.

But Ryan Nugent-Hopkins appears to be one of them.

Like farmhands peeking into a stall for first glimpse of a newborn thoroughbred colt, hundreds of fans were craning their necks at Millennium Place Monday for a better look at the 18-year-old future star.

“Ever since I got to Edmonton it’s been great,” he said after the first day of the Oilers prospects camp. “The ball game was a lot of fun, throwing the first pitch was pretty cool. Being in Katz’s box was awesome.

“Coming here with a lot of people watching is a really good time. It feels great. I was doing an autograph session at the ball game and everyone was saying ‘Welcome to Edmonton.’ That feels really good. I already feel like I’m part of the club.”

Unlike Taylor Hall, who can dazzle with speed and shot, Nugent-Hopkins is more of a slippery, one-step-ahead-of-the-defender kind of player, so there wasn’t much to see.

“I don’t think I’m the best practice player,” he grinned. “I haven’t been on the ice too much since the end of the season so I was a little bit rusty. Hopefully if we get into a little more game-like situations I’ll be better.

“But it was good to get out there and skate with all the guys.”

LATE HITS: The Oilers signed defeneman Theo Peckham to a one-year $1.075 million contract. Peckham, 23, piled up 198 penalty minutes last year, third highest in the NHL … They also signed minor-league goalie Yann Danis on a one-year contract. The 30-year-old spent last season in the KHL.

robert.tychkowski@Sunmedia.ca

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