20 Most Gifted Teenage Players in NHL History

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IJuly 29, 2012

20 Most Gifted Teenage Players in NHL History

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    The NHL has featured a variety of talented players that are many different ages, but only a select few have had a sizable impact during their teenage NHL years. 

    Throughout the NHL's history, there have been players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman who really took the game by storm despite their young age and lack of experience at the NHL level.

    This slideshow will take a look at the 20 most gifted teenage players in NHL history.

     

    *Teenage status is defined by whether or not the player was 19 years old or younger when he started the season.

Jeff Skinner

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    Jeff Skinner was a player who surprised a good portion of the hockey world when he was drafted. He originally was pegged as the 34th best skater in North America during his draft year, but it didn't stop the Carolina Hurricanes from selecting him seventh overall in 2010.

    During his 2010-11 season as a 18-year-old, Skinner posted a modest 63-point season that saw him score 31 goals. He also scored 44 points in a 2011-12 campaign that saw him battle through a concussion sustained in November of 2011.

    Skinner can also play all three positions with ease and is a versatile and very talented player who has performed well during his limited NHL career to date, so look for him to continue trending upward.

Scott Gomez

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    Believe it or not, Scott Gomez was once a very good hockey player. To take things a step further, in 1999, Gomez had one of the best regular and postseason performances as a teenage player in league history.

    That year Gomez was an All-Star, an All-Rookie team member and a Stanley Cup champion.

    Gomez was a 19-year-old rookie during the 1999-2000 season, and he scored 19 goals and and assisted on 51 other tallies for 70 total points.

    Gomez also was a plus-14 player. As a rookie, Gomez also scored four goals and he assisted on six others for 10 points in 23 playoff games. That year Gomez not only won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, but he was also the NHL's Calder Trophy recipient.

    It is so hard to see and understand how such a talented young player went downhill so fast.

Mike Modano

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    Mike Modano is a player regarded as the greatest American-born player in NHL history. He only spent one season in the NHL as a teenager, but he was very gifted, and he was the catalyst for change in Minnesota.

    Modano was a sizable forward who posted back-to-back 100 points or more seasons in Prince Albert and made the jump to the NHL in 1989.

    During his rookie season in 1989-90, Modano scored 29 goals, and he assisted on 46 others for 75 total points. He became the face of the franchise, and one year later as a 20-year-old, he led the North Stars to the Stanley Cup final.

Steve Yzerman

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    Steve Yzerman is one of the greatest players in NHL history, and he was a lifelong Detroit Red Wing player. Yzerman was selected fourth overall in the 1983 NHL draft, and he had a sizable impact upon arrival.

    In Yzerman's rookie year, he posted a stat line of 39 goals and 48 assists for a total of 87 points. He even helped the Wings improve by an overall number of 12 points and make the playoffs. 

    The following year, Yzerman tallied 89 points and maintained an above point-per-game average in the playoffs during his teenage years.

    Stevie Y was most assuredly one of the most gifted teenagers to make an immediate impact at the NHL level.

Tom Barrasso

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    Steve Yzerman may have had a sensational 1983-84 campaign, but Tom Barrasso had an even better year when it comes to hardware.

    Barrasso had an instant impact on the Buffalo Sabres, and he posted a 26-12-3 record with a 2.84 GAA while recording two shutouts during the 83-84 campaign.

    For his efforts, Barrasso won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender and the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie. 

    The following season, Barrasso put up similar numbers and even captured the William Jennings Trophy for the least amount of goals surrendered during the 1984-85 regular season.

Joe Sakic

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    Joe Sakic is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, and he will be honored for a career that started back in 1988. "Burnaby Joe" had a solid rookie season as a 19-year-old, and it was evident then that he was one of the most talented players in the game even as a teenager.

    He showed creativity and finesse with the puck, was one of the league's rising stars and was a respected player and leader.

    Sakic may have only scored 62 points in 70 games, but it was evident that bigger things were in store. That was proven during Sakic's 102-point campaign, a 40-point jump, during his sophomore season as a 20-year-old.

Dale Hawerchuk

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    Dale Hawerchuk is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Winnipeg Jets' franchise.

    He was their No. 1 selection back in the 1981 NHL draft, and he tore it up during his first two seasons as a teenage Jet.

    As an 18-year-old and a 19-year old, Hawerchuk scored 85 goals and assisted on 109 others for 194 points.

    Hawerchuk is one of the NHL's all-time greats, and he was a very consistent scoring forward during his NHL career, especially early on in his teenage years.

Jaromir Jagr

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    Jaromir Jagr arguably had one of the most successful and gifted years as a teenage player in the NHL. During the 1990-91 season, Jagr scored 27 goals and assisted on 30 others for 57 points.

    In the playoffs, Jagr scored three goals and assisted on 10 others for 13 points in 24 games as the Pittsburgh Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup.

    The next season as a 19-year-old, Jagr scored 32 goals and assisted on 37 others for 69 points in 70 games. He also had an amazing playoff run in which he tallied 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 21 playoff games.

    The Penguins won a second Stanley Cup, and Jagr went on to capture multiple trophies during his time as a Penguin.

Mario Lemieux

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    Mario Lemieux was one of the NHL's greatest players despite battling injuries throughout his career. During his rookie 1984-85 season, the teenage sensation really took things to a new level despite missing seven games. 

    Lemieux used his 6"4' frame and significant size to score 43 goals and assist on 57 others for 100 points in 73 games.

    It is a true shame that his career was significantly shortened because Lemieux was one of the NHL's most gifted players. 

Sidney Crosby

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    Sidney Crosby is a player who is widely considered to be the best in the NHL today. He took the league by storm as a teenager and became the face of the new NHL. Crosby's rookie year was the first year after the 2004 lockout, and he made a huge splash.

    Crosby posted a stat line of 39 goals and 63 assists for 102 points during his first season, and he posted 36 goals and 84 assists for 120 points in his sophomore season.

    Like his boss, the aforementioned Mario Lemieux, Crosby has produced at an alarming rate despite missing a significant amount of games due to injury.

Eric Lindros

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    Before Sidney Crosby was supposed to become the next big thing, Eric Lindros was that same man. Lindros ultimately had his NHL career shortened because he sustained multiple concussions.

    As a 19-year-old, Lindros impressed as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers despite being drafted by Quebec Nordiques.

    He was traded during the summer before the 1992-93 season in a deal that sent him to Philadelphia and Ron Hextall and Peter Forsberg back to the Nordiques.

    In his rookie season, Lindros scored 41 goals and assisted on 34 others for 75 points in only 60 games.

    If Teemu Selanne, age 22 at the time, hadn't had an outstanding rookie season, Lindros would have likely captured the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

    Nonetheless, the 1992-93 season illustrated that Lindros could have been a generational talent if he had been able to stay injury-free during his entire career.

Larry Murphy

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    Larry Murphy is a Hall-of-Fame defenseman who was foolishly traded by the Los Angeles Kings early in his career to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Brian Engblom and Ken Houston.

    During his rookie year as a 19-year-old, Murphy scored 16 goals and assisted on 60 others for 76 points. He bolstered the Kings blue line, and his presence had an effect on the team's overall play.

    His 60 assists and 76 points during the 1980-81 season set records for most assists and points by a rookie defenseman at the time. He would go on to win four Stanley Cups, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins and two with the Detroit Red Wings.

Bobby Orr

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    Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the NHL's greatest defensemen because of everything he accomplished in such a short amount of time.

    In his first two seasons, Orr posted a total of 72 points and was a plus-30 despite not appearing in every game in both seasons.

    He shined as one of the NHL's top defensemen, and it was apparent that he had the skill needed to be a winner.

    Orr's offensive abilities and defensive prowess was remarkable given his youth, and as a 20-year old, he finally emerged and showed the world what he could really do while healthy.

Ray Bourque

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    Ray Bourque is another Hall of Fame defenseman who made an impact during his rookie season. As a fresh-faced teenager, Bourque was looking to make the most of an opportunity with the Boston Bruins.

    After being drafted No. 8 overall in the 1979 NHL draft, Bourque stepped into the Bruins lineup for the 1979-80 campaign.

    Bourque had an incredible year as a 19-year-old, tallying  17 goals while assisting on 45 others for 62 total points. He also tallied 11 points in 10 playoff games that season.

    Ray Bourque would wear the spoked wheel for all but one season, but he established himself as an impressive teenage defenseman back in 1979.

Steven Stamkos

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    Steven Stamkos made the jump to the NHL as an 18-year old player, and he put up modest numbers during his rookie year. Stammer tallied 23 goals and assisted on 23 others for 46 points.

    As a 19-year-old, Stamkos took the league by storm. He scored 54 goals and assisted on 41 others for a whopping 95 points during his sophomore season. That was enough to capture the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy.

    Stamkos showed his raw talent, speed and blistering shot as a teenager, but he has evolved into a more complete player in his early 20s.

Jimmy Carson

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    Jimmy Carson was a very talented forward for the Los Angeles Kings and briefly the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings.

    During his first two years in the NHL, Carson tallied 92 goals and 186 points. He was producing at a solid pace for the Kings, and he was a key piece in the Wayne Gretzky blockbuster trade.

    However, Carson couldn't live up to the pressure of being the man to replace Wayne Gretzky, and he eventually was traded to the Detroit Red Wings before winding back in L.A.

Gilbert Perreault

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    Before Gilbert Perreault became one of the cornerstone members of the famous "French Connection," he was a 19-year-old rookie looking to make an impact in the NHL.

    Perreault started his career during the 1970-71 season and scored 38 goals and assisted on 34 others for 72 points in 78 games.

    For his efforts, Perreault went on to capture the Calder Trophy, and he has a very successful career entirely with the Buffalo Sabres.

Patrick Kane

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    Patrick Kane had a great rookie season as a 19-year-old for the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane scored 21 goals and assisted on 51 others for 72 total points during the 2007-08 regular season.

    Kane is a high-octane scoring winger for the Chicago Blackhawks who has played center in the past. This versatility gives Kane the touch of a goal scorer and the hands of a nifty playmaking centerman.

    During the '07-08 season, Kane's play earned him the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

Bryan Trottier

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    Bryan Trottier was one of the greatest forwards ever to wear a New York Islanders sweater. He was a cornerstone piece that helped the Isles win four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1980s.

    Before that period of dominance, Trottier got his start during the 1975-76 season as a 19-year-old kid.

    During that year, Trottier tallied 95 points and captured the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. His creative play, playmaking abilities and shot benefited Trottier during his entire playing career, and it was evident that he was going to emerge as a star after his breakout year in '75-76.

Wayne Gretzky

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    Wayne Gretzky is the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of NHL skates. During his first two seasons as a teenager in the NHL, Gretzky scored a staggering total of 106 goals and assisted on 195 others for 301 total points.

    Gretzky's entry into the NHL was something spectacular, and his success as a teenage player is absolutely mind-blowing.

    If you added his WHA totals from his time as a 17-year-old, it would only further illustrate his dominance as a young player.