Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit here, but I think after the hat-trick game, RNH seems a lock to play the whole season on the big club (sub-.200 performance in the faceoff circle notwithstanding). Assuming he does stay up, what do you guys think the chances are that the Oilers will make him available to play in the WJC?
Personally, I think it's sort of a win-win if the Oil let him go for the tournament. It would be an amazing experience and developmental opportunity for the kid -- a chance to play in the biggest games on the biggest stage, to lead his peers, and, yeah, to entertain the hometown (well, home-province) crowd. Plus, what the Oilers lose in Ryan's production while he's not on the roster, they'll more than make up in future good will. If we want these big talents to re-sign with our team when their ELCs and RFAs are up, it's so important we treat them right from start to finish.
I don't think it's goodwill to send Hopkins to WJC. I'm sure at this point, he'd much rather stay in the NHL during that time period rather than spend it at a junior tournament.
Hopkins might well be on the World Championship team, he'll get his chances to represent Canada.
All I can say is that if I was in the NHL, on the Oilers, playing as a top line center, the last thing I would want to do is play in the WJC.
I dunno, man. The WJC is an insanely big deal in international play these days, second only to the Olympics. If the Oilers are in 14th or 15th come December and RNH is getting worn down a bit from the grind of playing against men, a trip to the Juniors might be more attractive to the kid than you think.
Is Nugent-Hopkins going to help them win the Stanley Cup this year? If not, is the phrase "win now" meaningful at all?
If he continues to play at this level he improves their odds of making the playoffs which is their goal for the year. Granted, it's not a large increase in odds, but sending one of your best player away for close to 10 games would not be the actions of a team that wants to show people they are interested in contending for a playoff spot.
Now if the tournament was played around the 60 game mark of the season and there was no chance of playoffs then I could see teams being willing to do this, but usually the WJCs happen when there has only been about 30-35 games and everyone is technically still in the race.
Also, if he was barely getting into the lineup every game, it may also be considered by some teams, but let's face it, he's probably already the best centreman on the team (outside his poor face off showing)
It's looking increasingly unlikely that he'll be returned to junior. I'm coming around, boys and girls. If he continues this kind of play, well...let's say he's making it pretty darn near impossible for the team to send him down. If he's with the big club, no way he plays in the world juniors. He's a kid and he's already easily our best centre, and where better to develop him than playing against the best players in the world. We'll have a much better idea in about a week.