NHL 11 Rankings: The Top Ten Young Players Under Age 23
Since the lockout in 2005, the NHL has seen an increasing amount of quality young talent entering the league. The game has become quicker, faster and smaller players have more ability to handle the puck than ever before.
So, it comes as no surprise that we are seeing an explosion of young talent in the NHL. The top ten players under the age of 23 are not necessarily the most skilled players, but it’s hard to argue with their play and contributions to their teams.
For NHL 11 gamers, these are the players to target in franchise mode – with some of them, you still have time to grab them at a discount before they really blow up. With others, not so much.
Here is a look at the top ten players under the age of 23 in the game today:
Age: 22 (April 29 1988)
Since entering the league in 2007, Toews has been nothing short of dynamite. In his rookie season he managed 24 goals and 30 assists, not bad for a rookie. This season, Toews and fellow teammate Patrick Kane have been on fire since Feb 8., with a combined point total of 42. Even so, the numbers aren’t as important as his ability on the ice and his leadership. Only 22, Toews has already won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a gold medal at the 2007 World Juniors, making him the youngest member of the triple gold club. It should be mentioned that he was also awarded the Conn Smythe. He already has the experience and leadership and knows what it takes to win. All of these things make him without a doubt the best player under the age of 23.
Age: 21 (February 7 1990)
Tampa Bay Lighting
This NHL season can be summed up simply as the “Steven Stamkos show.” The guy has simply been lights out. In 75 games played, Stamkos has 43 goals and 43 assists. The knock on this kid was that he needed to be stronger for this season in order to use his lighting quick speed more effectively. After 75 games, it’s safe to say that Stamkos has benefited from Gary Roberts’ summer workout program. Not only has Stamkos increased his strength, but his speed is up as well. He is a great player with or without the puck, and can make slower defensemen look downright silly with his speed. On top of that, Stamkos has electrifying playmaking abilities, as well as great decision making on the ice. During an 18-game stretch between October and November, Stamkos managed to get at least a point in 16 of those games. While Stamkos is surrounded by players such as Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne, there is no question that he has been the biggest reason for Tampa Bay’s success this season. The scary thing about Stamkos is he is only going to get better as he matures.
Age: 22 (November 19 1988)
The 2008 Rookie of the Year is number three on this list for a variety of reasons. Patrick Kane is not only a dominant player with the puck, but is exceptionally skilled without it as well. Kane has been an important part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ success, and will continue to be for years to come. Kane put up 72 points in his first season and this season he is on pace for 72 more. While he isn’t a physical player, he is a very smart player and will be a 60-plus point player for years to come. Kane, along with Toews, also has the unique honor of being on the cover of NHL 2010.
Age: 21 (December 8 1989)
Los Angeles Kings
It’s one thing to be a talented young forward, but it’s another thing to be a talented, young defenseman and that’s exactly what Drew Doughty is. The London, Ontario native caught the attention of many people during his time with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, managing 157 points in just three seasons. While he is not a goal-scoring defenceman in the NHL, he does manage to contribute regularly on the score sheet. Doughty’s creative ability with the puck, as well as extraordinary play making ability, makes him a valuable asset to the Kings and any fantasy owner. Doughty is also no stranger to physical play and uses all of his 213 pounds to his advantage. Good, young, talented defenseman are extremely hard to come by in the NHL and the Kings struck gold when they drafted Doughty. He’ll be a player talked about for years to come and with an Olympic Gold medal under his belt there is no limit to what he might achieve in the future.
Age: 19 (November 14 1991)
From the moment Taylor Hall entered the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires, people took notice of him and for good reason. In his rookie season with the Spitfires, Hall had 84 points. In his second season he finished with 90 points, and in his final season he had 109 points. Over those three years Hall improved in all areas of his game, getting stronger and better each season. Hall has been compared to the likes of Pavel Bure because of his speed, acceleration and puck handling ability. His strength is an important part of his game, as he is absolutely fearless when driving to the net. The Edmonton Oilers are already reaping the rewards of drafting Hall first overall. In 65 games this season, Hall has 22 goals and 20 assists and sits fourth in rookie goal scoring. For fantasy owners it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy like Hall on your roster. Hall, like many all the other players on this list, will be talked about for years to come.
Age: 22 (September 22 1988)
Jordan Staal hasn’t put up the points like his big brother Eric, but he has stepped up in the absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. After missing 39 games with foot and hand injuries, Staal has managed 25 points in just 36 games. Often forgotten on a team that is knee deep in young talent and superstars, Staal has finally been given the chance to show off his abilities without the likes of Crosby or Malkin. He has also put up three seasons of 20 or more goals in four complete years in the NHL. At only 22, it would be hard to find a team in the league that wouldn’t want Staal in their lineup. Although he doesn’t put up the sexy numbers that everyone looks for with young talent, he does manage to play a very effective game. He provides leadership on the ice, as well as size. With ten points in his past 10 games this season, Staal has the potential and the talent to become a 50-70 point player in the future. Staal’s best days are still ahead of him and they could very well be with another team.
Age: 22 (June 7 1988)
A lot of you might be wondering why Milan Lucic made this list at all. However, he has been an important part of the Boston Bruins this season, quietly managing 30 goals in 71 games. In the past five games he has six points, not bad for a guy who only managed 19 points in his second season of junior. Lucic can be compared to a bigger version of a young Darcy Tucker. His physical and often punishing style of play makes him an important part of the Bruins lineup. He’ll do anything to protect his teammates and when this guy is on the ice, you better keep your head up. Lucic’s big frame makes it hard for defensemen him to push him out of the way. Keeping in mind that this is a breakout year for Lucic, it’s hard to argue with his numbers. And those numbers are only going to go up.
Age: 18 (May 16 1992)
Move over Eric Staal – there’s a new sheriff in Raleigh, and his name is Jeff Skinner. This young Hurricane may be the most exciting 18-year old in the game today. With his natural ability to score goals and his tremendous lower body strength, it’s a thrill to watch him play. Skinner isn’t only talented with the puck – he’s talented without it, too. The Markham, Ont., native had 50 goals in his final season in the OHL and so far this season in the NHL he has 26 goals. Skinner isn’t afraid to play physical either, and plays a tough but smart brand of hockey. Drafted seventh overall in the 2010 entry draft, the Hurricanes are certainly glad they got him.
Age: 21 (May 13 1989)
From his days in the OHL with the Belleville Bulls, P.K Subban has been catching the attention of many people. Subban is like a bull when he is on the ice, with his punishing checks, strong skating and smart outlet passes. Subban was drafted by Montreal in the second round in the 2007 draft and probably should have been drafted higher. In the 2006-07 season with the Bulls, Subban had 15 goals and 41 assists in 68 games, which is impressive for a defenseman. While many people may not like how Subban has carried himself on and off the ice, the Canadiens have to be pleased with how he has performed this season. In 71 games this season he has 11 goals and 24 assists, along with 106 penalty minutes. P.K Subban is a name you are going to hear about for a very long time to come.
Age: 20 (May 15 1990)
If he doesn’t have a nickname yet, he should be nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” because that’s all this kid has been for Team Canada. Eberle is extremely strong with the puck and possesses great offensive ability. In his final year in the Western Hockey League, he managed to put up 106 points with the Regina Pats. Drafted in the first round back in 2008, Eberle has not disappointed the Oilers at all. In 62 games this season he has 17 goals and 22 assists, which makes him number 10 on this list. Eberle has the potential to notch over 60 points each season for years to come, and on a young, talented team like the Oilers, that is very realistic.
Age: 22 (September 20 1988)
The jury is still out on Bobrovsky, but it’s hard to argue with his play for the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s 27-11 so far this season, who do have an impressive group of defenseman playing in front of him. Despite there being hardly any information on him, Bobrovsky went 4-2 at the World Juniors in 2008. He spent the 2009-10 season with Novokuznetsk Metallurg of the KHL where he put up a less than impressive recordof 9-22-3. Regardless of his poor numbers in the past, his numbers right now are good – in fact, they are more than just good. Bobrovsky should be credited for the success that the Flyers have been having this season. With a .917 save percentage, perhaps the Flyers have finally found a goalie for the long term future.
Who makes your list of the top young players in the NHL today? Drop a line in the comments and let us know whether you agree with the choices above – and NHL 11 gamers, remember, you can play for cash and prizes in Rivalspot’s PS3 and Xbox 360 arenas. Challenge friends and rivals today, and register for free here!