It’s been almost two weeks since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went first overall in the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota and the Red Deer Rebel says the fact that he’s an Edmonton Oiler now is still a bit surreal.
“I didn’t really know what to expect but it was definitely a good time,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who has already signed a three-year entry level deal with the Oilers.
“I was really nervous going into it and sitting in the stands was pretty nerve wracking. It was hard to believe when I heard him (Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini) say my name. It was pretty surreal. The whole experience was worth it. I mean, you only get to do it once and you don’t really know what to expect but a lot of the other guys were going through it too and I got to know them fairly well in the weeks leading up to the draft so it was nice to have them there. We all went through it together and it was a good time.”
Once Nugent-Hopkins took the draft stage and donned the Oilers’ jersey, he was quickly whisked away to meet all of the assembled media.
“There’s a whole interview room where we do all the pictures and meet with the media,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who described the experience as a bit of a blur.
“Afterwards, the Oilers had a party at their hotel. It was just their personnel and the other first round pick, Oscar Klefbom, and I were there, along with our families. It was good. And a few of the players have already messaged me. That made me feel like I’m part of the team already, so that was nice.”
Not only was the 18-year-old thrilled to be the first name called at the draft, but he’s also pretty excited by some of the other picks made by Tambellini and his staff.
“I thought we got some really good players. Klefbom is going to be good and with our second round pick, we got David Musil (Vancouver Giants defenseman), which is huge,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who played with Musil at the CHL Top Prospects game back in January.
“He’s a big guy, a solid defenseman, knows how to play defense and can shoot the puck. He’s a smart player and will definitely help in Edmonton. Travis Ewanyk (Edmonton Oil King) is another kid who will be good to play with. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team. I played with him at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and he’s the kind of guy you don’t like playing against. If we do get the chance to play with each other eventually, it’ll be good.”
Up next for the 18-year-old is the Oilers’ Prospect Development Camp, which got going in Sherwood Park earlier this week.
“I’ll be at the camp for the week and then I’ll be heading home to Burnaby,” said Nugent-Hopkins.
“It’ll be nice, after the camp, to just relax with family and take it easy a bit. The last few months have been crazy but it’s been a lot of fun, and like I said, you only get to do it once so you have to take it all in.”