In every sport, it is essential for your franchise to be built with reliable and quality veterans that know their way around the league. However, the best teams are also able to integrate young players into their system to create a spark of energy. In the NBA and NFL, the play is dominated by players in their early twenties. The MLB is no different, as Bryce Harper (23) was the best player in all of the major leagues a season ago. However, the league that may be most dependent on youth might just be the NHL. The NHL will never receive the recognition in a category like this in comparison to the other “Big 3” leagues, but teams are truly dominated by younger players.
Right now, if you looked up and down every roster in the NHL, there is an argument that the best player on almost every team is under the age of 25. In some instances, the individual could be even younger. Just for an example of younger players dominating the NHL, look at last years’ Stanley Cup runner up, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have two of the brightest stars in the game in Tyler Johnson (25) and Steven Stamkos (25) leading them to the championship round. The winner, the Chicago Blackhawks boasted Patrick Kane, who is now 27, but has been one of the best young players in the league for the past seven seasons.
Knowing that teams are dominated by younger players, we went ahead and scoured the rosters of every NHL team in an attempt to come up with the best players under the age of 25. In order to be on the list, the player must show extreme promise and potential, while already showing quality production as well. Oh, and they must be under the age of 25. Here are the Top 25 NHL players under the age of 25.
25. Conor McDavid (19)
Unfortunately for Conor McDavid, his rookie season has not gone the way he or the Edmonton Oilers planned. The 1st overall pick just a season ago suffered a broken collarbone after only 13 games played. Although his NHL career is off to an inauspicious start, there is still reason for hope. In his 13 games played, he notched 12 points easily. Oh, and in the 2014-15 OHL Season, he scored 120 points in just 47 games. Because of the potential he has shown, no one is giving up on McDavid just yet.
24. Robby Fabbri (20)
After being the Saint Louis Blues first round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, Robby Fabbri was immediately looked upon to produce in a major way. In his career before the NHL, Fabbri never had any issue contributing, as he has had multiple 100 point seasons. Currently, Fabbri is experiencing his first action as a member of the Blues, and he has continued to impress. In 46 games, Robby has scored 11 goals and dished 7 assists. On top of that, two of his eleven goals have been game winners. There is no doubt that Fabbri’s future is extremely bright in Saint Louis.
23. Dylan Larkin (19)
Dylan Larkin has been performing for the United States Developmental Team since the 2011 season and he is finally getting his chance in the NHL. Thanks to 47 points in just 35 games at the University of Michigan last season, the Detroit Red Wings selected Larkin 15th overall in this years’ Draft. Larkin has appeared in 48 of the Red Wings games this season and has put together an impressive rookie campaign, with 33 total points to his name. He is one of the few players who is challenging Jack Eichel for the Rookie of the Year.
22. Jaden Schwartz (23)
Jaden Schwartz comes in at number 23 on the list as his play has steadily improved over the past four seasons. Schwartz was brought along slowly by the Blues as he appeared in only seven games in his first year, then played in 45 the following year. However, in the 2013-14 season, Jaden played in 80 games and tallied 56 points. He followed that impressive breakout-campaign with 63 points in 2014-15 season. Unfortunately, Schwartz has only appeared in seven contests this season due to injury, but, once he is healthy again, the Blues will be much better off.
21. Seth Jones (21)
Seth Jones was one of most heralded members in his Draft class, which resulted in him being selected 4th overall. Two years later and Jones is one of the top young defenseman in all of hockey. In his first two seasons, Jones tallied at least 25 points and is on pace this season to top that mark once again. Although his offensive numbers are not eye-popping, his all-around play lands him on this list. In a few years, Jones projects to be a Top-Five defenseman in the NHL.
20. Jack Eichel (19)
To many, Jack Eichel was the player drafted after the heralded Connor McDavid. However, through 50 career NHL games, people are now referring to Eichel as the guy who should have went number one overall. Eichel currently has 34 points to his name only halfway through his first professional season. Last year for Boston University, Eichel tallied a staggering 71 points in just 40 games. At the moment, Eichel is the clear favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year). There is no question that in a few years, Jack Eichel will be one of the league’s best players.
19. Filip Forsberg (21)
After having one of the more dominant seasons for a rookie in recent memory, Filip Forsberg has been somewhat forgotten in the crowd of young talent. In his rookie campaign, Forsberg accumulated 63 total points while appearing in all 82 games. He also finished with a plus/minus of +15, which is extremely impressive as a rookie. Forsberg got off to a slow start this past season, but currently has 30 points to his name in just 49 games. Although he is flying somewhat under the radar, one can expect Forsberg to be a top player for a long time.
18. Johnny Gaudreau (22)
Johnny Gaudreau is one of the smallest players in the NHL as he is listed at 5’7, 157 lbs, but that did not stop him from crushing his rookie campaign. As a rookie, he finished with 64 total points which was good enough for him to finish in the Top 3 of the Rookie of the Year Award voting. This season, Gaudreau already has 46 points through 47 games. Although he may be small, Gaudreau is defying expectations as he continues to impress and prove his worth in the NHL. Within a few years, there is reason to believe he will be one of the most electric players in the whole league.
17. Elias Lindholm (21)
Elias Lindholm will definitely receive some backlash for being this high on the list. However, the backlash is not deserved in any way. Lindholm has steadily improved his play since his rookie season. He scored 21 points as a rookie and followed that up with a 39 point sophomore campaign. However, his all-around game is the reason that he lands on this list. He is a solid skater, great on the back check, and an aggressive fore-checker. And frankly, he is doing all of this on the lackluster Carolina Hurricanes.
16. Petr Mrazek (23)
Petr Mrazek is the only goalie to be on this this, and rightfully so. Mrazek has been absolutely magnificent thus far for the Detroit Red Wings. At this point in the season, he ranks second in save percentage, fourth in goals against average, and is tied for tenth in shutouts. He is doing all of this while basically splitting time with Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings are 18-9-4 when Mrazek starts in games this season and one can expect Mrazek to start the rest of the season after the All-Star break.
15. Dougie Hamilton (22)
As a member of the Boston Bruins, Dougie Hamilton showed extreme promise as he improved from 16 points in his rookie campaign to 42 points in his third year. It was extremely clear that Hamilton’s future was bright, but his future was not meant to be in Boston. After a confusing summer, Hamilton ended up in Calgary for the 2015-16 season. Hamilton’s adjustment to Calgary has not been as smooth as he or the Flames had planned but his talent is still undeniable. Seeing as Hamilton is only 22 years of age, there is no reason to give up on him now. The Flames and the NHL are still expecting big things from Mr. Hamilton.
14. Sean Monahan (23)
For number 14 on the list, we stay in Calgary as Sean Monahan makes his appearance. Monahan may be one of the most exciting players in the NHL already. Before his time in the NHL, Monahan put together back-to-back seasons of 78 points in the OHL. As a rookie in the NHL, Monahan tallied 34 points. However, rather than having a sophomore slump, he broke out in 2014-15 scoring 62 points. With this break-out, he showed his ability to score and be an old-fashioned catalyst for a Calgary offense that tends to be lethargic at times.
13. Ondrej Palat (24)
One of the oldest players on the list is Ondrej Palat, who finds himself at number 13. In two full seasons for the Lightning, he has 83 assists and 122 total points. When it comes to Tampa Bay, everyone wants to give all the credit to Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos, however, a lot of the credit should be given to Palat. He has been a major addition to the Lightning line-up and one of the major reasons Tampa Bay ended up in the Stanley Cup Finals just a season ago.
12. Aaron Ekblad (19)
The number one overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft did not disappoint in anyway during his rookie campaign. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy after finishing with 39 points as a 19-year old. Through 45 games this season, Ekblad has 21 points to his name. Although his point totals are not MVP worthy just yet, he has been a major reason the Florida Panthers are slowly coming out of the depths of the NHL dungeon. Currently, the Panthers are sitting atop the Eastern Conference.
11. Gabriel Landeskog (23)
Gabriel Landeskog is one of the guys who is almost so good, that he could have been left off this list. He has had point totals of 52, 59, and 65 in three of his first four seasons. The Avalanche have been a confusing team over the past five years, so his consistency is even more impressive. So far in the 2015-16 season, Landeskog has 33 points to his name through only 47 games. If Landeskog continues the consistent play, he will be a consistent All-Star in this league.
10. Ryan O’Reilly (24)
Ryan O’Reilly made a name for himself as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. During his years there, he had three seasons of 50+ points. Unfortunately for Avalanche fans, O’Reilly’s time in Colorado came to an end as he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres before the start of the 2015 season. Now, in Buffalo, O’Reilly is playing with one of the best young line-ups in the league and currently has 40 points in his first 50 games as a Sabre. The tandem of O’Reilly and Eichel is expected to do big things in the coming years for the Buffalo Sabres.
9. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (22)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can flat out play the game of hockey. At the young age of 22, he already has 218 points to his name. This includes three seasons over 50 points and 30 assists. Once again in 2015, he is on pace to pass both again. The one complaint on Nugent-Hopkins, like any player for the Oilers, is the fact that the team still has yet to produce wins. Although this may be true, he is still an incredible talent and the wins in Edmonton are coming in due time.
8. Justin Faulk (23)
Justin Faulk is a name that the casual hockey fan may be unfamiliar with, but they should get accustom to hearing his name for many years. On top of being an excellent defensive defenseman, he has continued to improve his offensive game. Last season, he finished with 15 goals and 34 assists. Already in the 2015-16 season, he has 14 goals and 19 assists. As he continues to expand on his offensive potential, he is going to become a household name.
7. Brandon Saad (23)
Brandon Saad is 23 years old and has two Stanley Cup Championships under his belt. This is something that most players in the NHL will never have. And Saad has played a major part of his teams’ success in the playoffs. In his short career, Saad has 34 career playoff points to go along with 161 total points in regular season play. Unfortunately for Saad, he is no longer a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, as he was traded in a shocking seven-player trade this off-season and suits up for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
6. Nathan Mackinnon (20)
Many people hopped off the Nathan Mackinnon train after a sophomore slump followed up one of the best rookie seasons ever. Mackinnon waltzed through his rookie season tallying 63 points and winning the Calder Memorial Trophy with ease. However, much like the Colorado Avalanche, he had an extremely disappointing 2014-15 season scoring only 38 points. Although he did go through the dreaded sophomore slump, Mackinnon is back to his old ways as he currently has 40 points through his first 51 games this season.
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (24)
This is the last season that Oliver Ekman-Larsson will appear on this list as he will be 25 heading into next year. However, it’s important he land on this list because he is the best young defenseman in the league. He has played for one of the more embarrassing teams for his entire NHL career and has still been able to compile 188 assists before turning the age of 25. Eventually, Arizona are going to win games. The only question is whether or not Ekman-Larsson will be around when that time comes.
4. Ryan Johansen (23)
Ryan Johansen is a guy that most NHL fans would not have projected to be on this list just a few years ago. That is the beauty of sports; Johansen was a late bloomer and is on his way to becoming a star. In his last two seasons, he has tallied point totals of 63 and 71. Over the span of his four and a half year career, he has 202 points. Johansen was actually just traded to the Nashville Predators from the Columbus Blue Jackets and is ready to play for a team competing for the Playoffs.
3. Taylor Hall (24)
Taylor Hall was selected as the number one overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Oilers. Since being drafted, he has done everything that was expected of him and more. Since his NHL debut in 2010, he has already accumulated over 300 points and is still playing at an incredibly high level. The only downfall of Hall is that since being drafted, the Edmonton Oilers have yet to make the playoffs. However, with Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and now McDavid, one can expect them to be a very dangerous team in the coming years.
2. Vladimir Tarasenko (24)
Vladimir Tarasenko has taken the reigns as the best player for the Saint Louis Blues and undoubtedly, one of the best players in all of the NHL. After being brought along in a slow fashion, Tarasenko finally blew-up last season as he finished with 73 points and a plus/minus of +27. During the playoffs last season, Vladimir scored six goals and had one assist in just seven games. This is truly the type of talent that he possesses. Much in the way that Crosby and Kane have the ability to, Tarasenko too will lead his team to a Stanley Cup Trophy.
1. Tyler Seguin (23)
Tyler Seguin is only 23-years old. He has been in the league since he was drafted second overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. In his sophomore campaign for the Boston Bruins, he scored 67 points and was on his way to take over the NHL. A somewhat lackluster third season resulted in Seguin being traded to the Dallas Stars where he then exploded to one of the most prolific offensive players in the world. In his first season as a star, he broke out for 84 points and followed it up with a 77 point season last year. He is the leader of the leagues’ best offense as the sky is the limit for Tyler Seguin.
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