Welcome to another WHL Best of the 2010s feature where we profile the best WHL players from the 2009-10 season all the way to the 2019-20 season. Players are judged based on what they did in each division. This means if a player spent time in multiple divisions, their placement will be judged based on what they did separately while in each division. Don’t forget to vote on our Twitter page, @WHLonA51 to help determine which player will be crowned the best WHL player of the 2010s. We hope you enjoy.
Although his time in the WHL was short, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ranks as one of the best Red Deer Rebels of all time. He recorded 177 points in 141 games on route to becoming the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A two-season wonder, Nuge’s time in the WHL won’t soon be forgotten.
In his first full season, Nugent-Hopkins scored 27 goals and registered 65 points in 67 games. He was named WHL Rookie of the Year along with being selected onto the CHL All-Rookie Team. Although he helped Red Deer clinch a playoff spot, they were swept in the first round.
Nugent-Hopkins second and last in the WHL is where he shined. In 69 games, he scored 31 goals and registered 106 points finishing fourth in league scoring. During the season, he also participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament winning Gold and leading the tournament in goals. As for his awards, he was named CHL Top Prospect of the year along with being selected for the WHL East First All-Star Team. He did help Red Deer win their first-round matchup in the playoffs but lost in a five-game second-round matchup with Medicine Hat ending his WHL career.
As mentioned, his time was short in the WHL, but it was memorable. Few have shown such a high level of skill from the get-go as he had during his first season. He is well deserving of being part of the WHL Best of 2010s list.