10 Young Stars Who Should Be the New Faces of the NHL
There is an incredible group of young superstars in the NHL today that is accomplishing incredible things. From Drew Doughty's performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics to Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane winning Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh and Chicago, respectively, at a young age.
But the next generation of stars has started to emerge all over the league. There are players that, in many cases, can't legally drink yet and yet they're some of the best players in the league.
Here are 10 players that should be on your radar for the next group of elite superstars in the game. There are certainly players that qualified for this list that we left off because of their exposure already, like Jeff Skinner in Carolina (played in the All-Star Game last year). But these guys will all be following Skinner, Doughty, Kane, Toews and Crosby to All-Star Games and beyond soon enough.
Jordan Eberle, F, Edmonton Oilers
No, he isn't a No. 1 overall pick like Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and he didn't jump straight from the draft into the Oilers' lineup. But Eberle has quietly become the most consistent scorer of the baby-faced stars in Edmonton. He has 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 41 games, which places him in the league's top 10 in points. He should probably represent the Oilers in the All-Star Game this year as well.
Jamie Benn, F, Dallas Stars
Benn is currently sitting 15th in the NHL in scoring at 41 points (13 goals, 28 assists) and is plus-10 in 40 games with the Stars this year. He's an explosive young forward that is going to make life miserable for opponents for years, no matter what division Dallas ends up in.
Ryan O'Reilly, F, Colorado Avalanche
O'Reilly, a second round pick in 2009, has emerged in the absences of Pete Mueller and, now, Matt Duchene in Denver to give the Avs another legit top-tier scoring threat. He has 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 43 games, and is one of the really good puck-movers in the game today.
John Tavares, F, New York Islanders
Tavares is in a major market but gets ignored far too much because he's on the Islanders. But at 21 years old he's already scored 66 goals in 200 games. He's currently 29th in the NHL with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 29 games.
Evander Kane, F, Winnipeg Jets
Kane will soon be the face of the new Jets, if he isn't already, as he's become their top scorer. He has already piled up 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in only 40 games. With a birthday in August, he could have a 30-goal season on his resume before he can take a drink in the US and has no problem hitting someone as well.
Tyler Seguin, F, Boston Bruins
Age: 19 (20 on Jan. 31)
Seguin obviously was part of the great Taylor-Tyler debate at last year's draft, and Seguin accepted a role on a Stanley Cup championship roster in Boston last year. But he's elevated his game to being one of the leading scorers in the Eastern Conference this year, piling up 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 27 games with a remarkable plus-32 rating. He could quickly become the face of the Bruins in the next couple years.
Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators
Rightfully voted one of the six starters in this year's All-Star Game, Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 41 points (six goals, 35 assists) in 43 games. He's a machine on the power play with 17 points on special teams already; those points alone would place him ahead the total points of veterans like Erik Johnson, Drew Doughty and Brent Seabrook.
John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals
Age: 22 (birthday is Jan. 10)
Happy birthday, Mr. Carlson! The young defenseman is helping the Caps forget Mike Green while he's been out and has become a key part of the Washington offense. He has 22 points this year (five goals, 17 assists), and he'll probably be on the team for the United States at the next Olympic games.
Ryan McDonagh, D, New York Rangers
McDonagh is becoming a really complete defenseman for the Rangers. He has 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 39 games, has also blocked 90 shots, and has been credited with 59 hits and 26 takeaways on the season. He has a bright future with the blue shirts.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Philadelphia Flyers
There are a couple of young, 23-year-old netminders in Bobrovsky in Philadelphia and Jonathan Bernier in Los Angeles that will be a really good starter somewhere soon. Whether or not either of those guys reaches that status in their current cities is something that's hard to figure with the Kings having a No. 1 and the Flyers paying Nostradamus Bryzgalov until well after the Mayan calendar ends, but Bobrovsky has shown that he can be the man if given the chance.