Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Case: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vs. Anton Lander

The center spot by training camp will be one of intrigue. If we can agree that Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and Sam Gagner are 3 of the centers, than a likely battle between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander will likely ensue.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins:
Strengths - Great vision, superb passer. Likely to do a heavy amount of damage on the powerplay. Underrated and effective type release. Crafty skater, doesn't waste a lot of movement.
Weakness - Strength, plain and simple. It will hinder him defensively in the pros, might even hinder him offensively if he gets pushed off the puck too much. Puck protection is going to be make or break for him.

Anton Lander:
Strengths - Heady two-way play coming from Lander. He is built to play in center in the pros. Good surveyor of the game, solid defensive game, passable offensive game if he playing in the bottom half of the lineup.
Weaknesses - Not a lot of offensive pizzazz. He's more Shawn Horcoff than Ales Hemsky. Plays a low event type game.

The Verdict - The Oilers have a lot riding on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It comes with the territory of being a #1 overall pick. The expectations will be high for him, coming a greater fall if he doesn't pan out. The Oilers are at a crossroads with their team. Do they need more offense or better defensive play? Of the need offense RNH is their guy, defense, I'd say Lander is that. With the way the Oilers team is built now, I would say stability at center is something the Oilers need the most. That being said, I would choose Lander, but with RNH having less options than Lander, I would see why they would keep RNH over Lander. I will be keeping a close eye on this battle come training camp.

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