Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is sticking with the Edmonton Oilers.
The team announced Friday that the No. 1 pick at June's draft will remain with the club past the nine-game mark rather than be returned to junior.
“He knows the spotlight has been on him and will continue to be, but he went out there and did what he's always done,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
He was tied for the team lead in points after scoring five goals and four assists through nine games.
Nugent-Hopkins has been skating on a line with fellow recent first-round picks Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. They accounted for 10 of Edmonton's 18 goals through nine games and have been dubbed the “Kids and the Hall” line.
“Taylor and Jordan have been amazing mentors for me,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I'm thrilled that I get to keep playing with those guys.”
The 18-year-old centre was scheduled to play his 10th game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, automatically kicking in the first year of his entry-level contract.
Even though the Oilers waited until the last moment before announcing Nugent-Hopkins was staying, the news didn't come as a surprise.
Teammate Ryan Whitney took to Twitter soon after it was made official: “The Nuge is staying in NHL huh? What a shocker. In other news, sky is blue, grass is green and it's going to be cold in Edmonton in January.”
Also Friday, the Oilers recalled defenceman Jeff Petry from Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League.