The 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been fun to follow for no reason other than the race to be number one.

In the past few years, hockey fans have been treated to several two horse races for the number one selection in the draft. Tavares/Hedman and Hall/Seguin gave people tons to talk about heading into the June draft.

This year, it hasn’t been so easy.

There are a consensus four names that top the list of hockey scouts both amateur and pro.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog, and Adam Larsson have all shared space atop the rankings and mock drafts of scouts everywhere.

As we prepare to publish our first top 30 ranking of the year, it’s looking pretty clear that the man who will sit atop of our site’s draft report will be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The scouting report on Nugent-Hopkins is a combination of what makes his forward peers great players.

He has the character of a Landeskog, the defensive presence of a Couturier, and the dangle ability of a Ryan Strome.

In short, Nugent-Hopkins takes the best of the best and utilizes that on a nightly basis.

In terms of offensive skills, Nugent-Hopkins is a dual threat. His hockey IQ is high and his decision making is fast and sound. He’s got the ability to make you look silly in the corner, but he also makes his teammates better with his passing, vision, and ability to create.

That said, it isn’t a one way show on offense. Nugent-Hopkins is invested in the defensive side of the ice and isn’t afraid to venture that way.

He’s also well spoken for his age and is the young leader of a Red Deer Rebels team that follows him into battle.

The key with Nugent-Hopkins is size. At 6’0, 155lbs, he hasn’t even totally filled out yet. He might not make a name for himself by utilizing his size and laying hits in the corner, but as he continues to add size, he’ll continue to evolve his game to accommodate that. However, that lack of size is no deterrent for Nugent-Hopkins. If you try to take advantage of his stature, he’ll dangle around you or protect the puck with ease.

His skating ability is sound and his dangle ability is something to behold.

In short, we’ve yet to see all of what Nugent-Hopkins is capable of.

In 67 games this year, he’s registered 28 goals and 74 assists for a hefty 102 point total in 2010/2011.

With a plethora of talent in the top 5 of this draft, the team that picks first should be taking a hard look at a kid with a huge ceiling, talents that are innate, with plenty of room to grow. No one screams that more than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.