Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, was among 34 players who participated in the Barons' first practice Sunday morning at the Cox Convention Center.
During the NHL lockout, players with entry-level contracts like Nugent-Hopkins, one of the NHL's top rookies last season, can play in the American Hockey League.
“It's good to come down and keep playing and keep building relationships with some guys I played with quite a bit last year (in Edmonton),” said Nugent-Hopkins, who arrived in Oklahoma City on Friday night.
“I haven't seen too much, just been able to walk downtown. Everyone seems really nice. It's cool having everything pretty close together. This is a great rink. I was almost a little surprised how nice the rink was and how big it was. I'm excited to get the season going.”
ANOTHER NO. 1 OVERALL PICK?
Taylor Hall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, remains in his entry-level contract like Nugent-Hopkins. Hall reportedly wouldn't join the Barons because he was on injured reserve and wasn't assigned to Oklahoma City before the lockout.
Now there's speculation once Hall completes his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery he might be eligible to play for the Barons.
“There is a possibility, but it hasn't been discussed with the (Edmonton) organization, yet,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “It could be a possibility. Who knows what's going to happen? It's a different situation. We're just moving forward business as usual. He still has to be cleared.”
Hall, a left winger, has 49 goals in 126 games the past two years with Edmonton.
EBERLE EMBRACES OPPORTUNITY