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In the NHL, the kids are alright

Bruce Penton shares his top 10 players under the age of 23 in the NHL
bruce penton sports

When it comes to youth, the National Hockey League is in good hands. 

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon and Co. may still be in their 20s and considered young, but when it comes to REALLY young, there is a plethora of talent on the cusp of superstardom.

One could put together a terrific all-star team using only players born in the 2000s, which means this group is no older than 23. And since we love lists, here’s one man’s version of the top 10 NHLers in that youthful group.

Counting down….

No. 10 — Matty Beniers (born in 2002) of Seattle. The reigning rookie of the year put up 57 points for the Kraken and was an impressive plus 14.

No. 9 — Cole Caufield (2001) of Montreal. The diminutive Wisconsin native has speed and great moves, and terrifies opposing goalies. He scored 26 goals in only 46 games last year and projects to being a perennial 50-goal scorer if he can stay healthy.

No. 8 — Trevor Zegras (2001) of Anaheim. His second full season produced a second-straight 23-goal campaign. The innovative Zegras introduced lacrosse-style ‘Michigan’ goals, things of beauty, to the NHL.

No. 7 — Moritz Seider (2001) of Detroit. The German-born defenceman won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2021-22 after putting up 50 points. He racked up another 42 last season.

No. 6 — Dylan Cozens (2001) of Buffalo. The former Lethbridge Hurricane found the scoring range last year. After netting only 13 goals in his first full season, Cozens erupted for 31 goals and 68 points last year and is the team’s No. 2  centre behind Tage Thompson.

No. 5 —Andrei Svechnikov (2000) of Carolina. Was on a 30-goal, 70-point pace last year until a late-season injury put him on the shelf and helped derail the Hurricanes’ legitimate Stanley Cup hopes.

No. 4 — Connor Bedard (2005) of Chicago. The hype is real. 

No. 3 —Rasmus Dahlin (2000) of Buffalo. The first overall pick in the 2018 draft has not disappointed the Sabres or their fans. He plays more than 20 minutes a night, anchors the Sabres’ power play and his point totals went from 53 two years ago to 73 last year. 

No. 2 — Tim Stutzle (2002) of Ottawa. The third overall pick in the 2020 draft, Stutzle has more than lived up to his pre-draft billing. He collected 90 points last year (39 goals, 51 assists) to lead the Sens’ offence. He has gone from 29 points to 58 to 90 in his three years in the league. Season four and beyond could be spectacular.

No. 1 — Jack Hughes (2001) of New Jersey. The top pick in the 2019 draft broke through with 99 points last year, including 43 goals, and is one of three Hughes brothers in the NHL (Quinn with the Canucks and Luke with the Devils). Will win a Cup or two before he’s done.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 





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