Oilers' Nugent-Hopkins a growing boy

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:16 PM ET

PENTICTON, B.C. - The question never seems to be whether Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is good enough to be an impact player in the NHL, but rather, is he big enough.

The size issue has been something that dogged him since he played Junior at 165 pounds and probably won’t stop until he silences the issue with his play.

He addressed it over the summer, moving up to 175 on his 6-1 frame and already feels the difference.

“My power got a lot better over the summer and it’s translated on the ice,” he said. “I feel like my skating has been a little bit more powerful, faster.”

He says he didn’t go crazy with the weights or do anything he doesn’t usually do in the off-season.

“For the most part it just happened naturally, I’m just starting to fill out naturally,” he said, adding it hasn’t affected his mobility. “Nothings really been taken away, things are actually better, in fact. I think I’ve gotten a little bit faster and stronger on the puck.”

Head coach Tom Renney isn’t looking for Mark Messier, just a guy who can get to where he needs to be on the ice and come away with the puck.

“I think he’s got a good hockey frame,” said Renney. “It’s about strength and not just the physical strength, the mental strength and being able to assert your will physically when you need to.”

NEXT GENERATION: It’s Year 2 of the rebuilding harvest and Renney is as excited as anyone to see the latest haul in person.

“You cant help but get excited about the Oilers situation in general,” he said. “We were excited last year at this time, to be quite honest, for making the decision to take a certain (rebuilding) path.

“Continuing with that, you see more very good young players in the mix. Its exciting from a coaching perspective.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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