25 Prospects Ready to Be the Next Sidney Crosby
The face of the league cannot be an injured player. The emergence of new young stars such as Claude Giroux and John Tavares has brought light of the situation, but fans wonder if there will be another "next great one" like Crosby was touted as being.
It is doubtful that anyone will ever be as great as Wayne Gretzky was; he played in the NHL's highest scoring era and was simply better at scoring than any human should even be capable of.
Players like Crosby (and Alex Ovechkin before him, and Eric Lindros before him) have been touted as super prospects.
There might never be another Gretzky. There might never even be another Crosby.
However, there are a load of excellent forward prospects who could make a serious mark at the NHL level.
25. Viktor Crus-Rydberg
Crus-Rydberg is a 6'0", 190-pound center from Sweden playing for the Linkoping J20 team in Sweden's SuperElit.
"VCR" has scored 55 points in 48 games over the past two seasons in the J18 Elit league, plus 16 points in 36 games at the SuperElit level.
He will be eligible for the 2013 draft.
24. Philippe Venne
Venne is a 5'9", 180-pound left winger from Canada playing for the QMJHL's Drummondville Voltigeurs.
The 16-year-old will be eligible for the 2013 draft. He totaled 64 points in 61 games in the QMAAA.
23. Curtis Lazar
Lazar is a 5'11", 177-pound center from Canada playing for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings.
He has 25 points in 47 games this season. He will be eligible for the 2013 draft.
A scout said of Lazar, “He has blazing speed, high hockey IQ and a thick frame. He’s hard to knock off the puck.”
22. Pontus Aberg
Aberg is a 5'11", 194-pound left winger from Sweden playing for the SEL's Djurgardens IF Stockholm.
He has 14 points in 37 games this season. He is eligible for the 2012 draft
21. Sebastian Collberg
Collberg is a 5'11", 176-pound right winger from Sweden playing for the Elisterien's Forlunda team.
He totaled nine points in 14 games with the junior-20 Frolunda team this season. He is eligible for the 2012 draft.
Collberg is fast, can bump off defensemen, deke well and has a very good wrist shot, according to EliteProspects.
20. Mika Zibanejad
Zibanejad is a 6'2", 192-pound center from Sweden playing for Djurgarden of Sweden's Elitserien.
He was drafted sixth overall by the Senators in the 2011 NHL entry draft, playing nine games this season. He totaled one assist before being sent back to the European team.
19. Sean Couturier
The 19-year-old Couturier has 20 points in 52 games this season. A two-way forward with excellent size, Couturier could become even more dangerous if he adds weight to his 6'3", 197-pound frame.
He is already effective at controlling the puck against checks, and at such a young age he is sure to improve to a high ability.
18. Radek Faksa
Faksa is a 6'3", 202-pound center from the Czech Republic playing for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.
He has 50 points in 47 games this season. He is eligible for the 2012 draft.
17. Mikael Granlund
Granlund is a 5'8", 169-pound forward from Finland playing for HIFK Helsinki of the SM-liiga.
He has 48 points in 41 games this season.
He was drafted by the Minnesota Wild ninth overall in the 2010 draft.
Granlund is a quality playmaker and puckhandler who should join the Wild next season.
16. Brayden Schenn
Schenn was drafted fifth overall in the 2009 draft and currently has 11 points in 28 games.
The 6'1", 190-pound center from Canada is touted as the No. 3 prospect in all of hockey by HockeysFuture.com. He is a two-way forward with a high upside to his offensive abilities.
15. Jeff Skinner
The 19-year-old Skinner totaled 63 points in his rookie season, then put up 30 points through 41 games this year.
Skinner was drafted seventh overall in 2010 and already shows signs of being a top scorer.
14. Jonathan Huberdeau
Huberdeau is a 6'1", 170-pound center from Canada playing for the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs.
He has 45 points in 24 games this season. He was drafted third overall by the Florida Panthers in 2011.
13. Tyler Seguin
Seguin has already doubled his point total from last season, with 44 points in 53 games this season.
The 6'1", 182-pound center from Canada was drafted second overall by the Boston Bruins in 2010.
He is just 20 years old and will certainly continue to improve his point production.
12. Alex Galchenyuk
Galchenyuk is a 6'0", 198-pound center who plays for the OHL's Sarnia Sting. Galchenyuk is of Russian ancestry and was born in the United States.
He was initially ranked as a top prospect for the 2012 draft, but a season-ending knee injury may cause teams to be more cautious. In the long-term, he has serious offensive abilities.
In the 2010-11 season, Galchenyuk scored 83 points in 68 games for the OHL's Sarnia Sting.
11. Brendan Gaunce
Gaunce is a 6'2", 215-pound center from Canada playing for the OHL's Belleville Bulls.
The big two-way forward has 51 points in 52 games this season.
He will be eligible for the 2012 draft.
10. Ryan Johansen
The 6'2'', 192-pound 19-year-old rookie for the Columbus Blue Jackets has 17 points in 45 games this season.
He was drafted fourth overall in the 2010 draft after a 92 point season in the WHL.
9. Alex Forsberg
Forsberg is a 5'9", 170-pound center from Canada playing for the WHL's Prince George Cougars.
He has 31 points in 44 games this season and will be eligible for the 2013 draft.
8. Max Domi
Domi is a 5'10", 184-pound center from Canada playing for the OHL's London Knights.
The son of legendary enforcer Tie Domi, he has 40 points in 48 games this season.
He will be eligible for the 2013 draft.
7. Filip Forsberg
Forsberg is a 6'2", 181-pound center from Sweden playing for Leksand of the Allsvenskan.
He has 14 points in 36 games this season.
6. Gabriel Landeskog
Landeskog has 30 points in 57 games this season, his rookie year.
The 6'1'', 207-pound Swede was drafted second overall in the 2011 draft. The 19-year-old is off to an excellent start.
5. Taylor Hall
Hall was picked first overall over Tyler Seguin in the 2010 draft.
He is proving himself worthy of that spot with 83 points in 110 games over his first two seasons. The 6'1'', 200-pound 20-year-old should be at least a point-per-game player for years to come.
4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The Oilers were lucky enough to have the first overall pick in back-to-back drafts.
Along with the incredible prospect of Hall, Edmonton has 6'0'', 171-pound Nugent-Hopkins.
He is off to an even better start than Hall; in 40 games he has 35 points—nearly a point-per-game player in the NHL at age 18.
3. Mikhail Grigorenko
Gregorenko is a 6'3", 200-pound center from Russia playing for the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts.
He has 69 points in 46 games this season.
Gregorenko is likely the most complete two-way forward in this year's draft, and could possibly go first overall.
2. Nail Yakupov
Yakupov is a 5'11", 189-pound right winger from Russia playing for the OHL's Sarnia Sting.
He has 59 points in 31 games this season; the best points-per-game in the league. This is after totaling 101 points in 65 games last year.
Yakupov is a dynamic scorer with good skating acceleration and is widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft.
1. Nathan MacKinnon
If Yakupov doesn't take the NHL on his shoulders, there is a very good chance someone who idolizes Crosby will.
Thus far, MacKinnon's hockey career has shown eerie similarities to the injured Penguins captain.
The 5'11", 179-pound right winger is a Canadian with a right-handed shot.
In 46 games with the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, MacKinnon has 65 points.
He will be eligible for the 2013 draft and is almost guaranteed to go first overall.
B/R Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka is avaiable on Twitter for NHL updates.