Cage Match: Vincent Trocheck vs. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Rick Roos


This week's Cage Match compares two second-line centers on struggling teams

With center being the deepest position in fantasy hockey, when poolies hear “second line center” let’s just say the first thing that comes to mind isn’t high expectations. But this week’s battle is between two pivots – Vincent Trocheck and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – producing better than projected for 2017-18 despite being second bananas on their teams. Can one or both sustain (or even improve upon) their current scoring paces, and what do their futures hold? Let’s find out – Cage Match starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

Trocheck, 24, was drafted 64th overall in 2011, and saw his production increase in each of his junior seasons, with his 109 points leading the OHL in scoring for 2012-13. After 42 points in 55 AHL games in 2013-14 and eight points in 20 games for Florida, most poolies figured he’d earned his NHL spot. But that wasn’t to be – not yet at least, as he was ticketed back to the AHL for 23 games, where he shined (19 points) and then once again had decent but not eye-opening NHL output (22 points in 50 games). Still, with nothing left to prove in the AHL, Trocheck logged a full campaign with Florida in 2015-16, posting 53 points in 76 games. He followed that with similar output last season (54 points in 82 games), giving the team solid scoring for their second line.

Nugent-Hopkins (“RNH”), also 24, was picked first overall in the same 2011 draft, and his 52 points in 62 games that season tied for the 8th best points per game output of any forward who played in 60+ contests as a rookie since 2000-01. Unfortunately, in his next two full seasons he played in 14 and 18 more games, yet only managed four more points (56) each campaign. After an injury-plagued 2015-16 (33 points in 56 games) RNH cratered to 43 points in 82 games last season, leaving poolies to wonder if he was even still fantasy-worthy on a squad that had Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, plus added Ryan Strome in the offseason.

Trocheck’s contract runs through 2021-22 and carries a $4.75M annual cap hit, while RNH’s deal is more expensive ($6M per season) but ends a year earlier.

Ice Time

(2017-18 stats in this and the other tables are current through December 3 games)


Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)