NHL Teams with the Brightest Core of Young Players
The youth movement in the NHL is in full swing as several young teams and players began to emerge over the course of last season. While lots of talk has focused on the youth overload in Edmonton, several other teams have begun stocking up on young stars.
As traditional powerhouses like Detroit have started to age, other teams like Edmonton, and Colorado have been getting younger. Youth does not necessarily lead to immediate wins, but it does set teams up for great success in the coming years.
The teams on this list are teams that featured young stars in their lineup last season, and did not leave them to develop in the AHL or in their respective Jr. leagues. There are other teams that have a strong list of prospects that are not seeing anytime in the NHL.
Here is a look at five teams that have set themselves up for success in coming years by assembling a great core of young players, giving them experience in NHL games, and leaning on them for production.
The Boston Bruins young guns are headlined by Tyler Seguin. Seguin, who has played great since entering the league as an 18 year old, has continued to get better with each season.
Seguin's point total increased from 22(11 goals, 11 assists) during his rookie campaign to 67(29 goals, 38 assists) in his sophomore season. Playing overseas during the lockout is only helping Seguin prove that he is going to be a force for years to come.
Another key player to the Bruins, who is still relatively young, is Brad Marchand. The 24-year-old left wing has made his presence known on the Bruins roster.
Posting a plus-12 rating during the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup run, Marchand established himself as one of the league's premier defensive forwards. At only 24-years-old, the Bruins can expect many more great seasons out of Marchand.
Other key prospects who will help the Bruins stay in the top tier of the league for many years to come are players like Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Jared Knight.
While some of the Bruins young guns may not see lots of time right away on the NHL level, these young stars will be lighting the Boston skies soon enough.
The Colorado Avalanche have two of the league's most electrifying young players on their roster in Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. In addition to Landeskog and Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly has been making a name for himself in the league as a young star.
Boasting one of the youngest overall rosters in the NHL, the Avalanche are going to rely on their young talent for years to come. With a solid core of players in their mid or early 20s, the Avalanche have put themselves in a very solid position to be contenders in years to come.
Erik Johnson is anchoring the Avs blue liners for now as the defense corps seems to be the oldest part of the Avs lineup. In order for the Avs to prove that they are one of the better young teams within the NHL, they will have to take advantage of a young, eager crop of defenseman throughout their farm system.
With seemingly half their roster playing in the AHL right now, it goes without saying that the Oilers have the most promising young roster in the NHL. Headlined by first overall draft picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov (who is currently playing in the KHL), the Oilers do not lack young stars.
The Oilers' stockpile of young stars does not stop there, however, as names like Eberle, Paajarvi, Omark, and Schultz help fill out the rest of the lineup. Anytime a team is given back-to-back-to-back first overall picks though, you would expect the team to be stocked with young guns.
While the Oilers have struggled to win in recent history, they have been building a team that, as mentioned, is young and will be very scary in years to come. Do not be surprised if you see the Oilers return to their glory days sometime over the next five seasons.
After a long hard wait in Edmonton, the Oilers have built a young core that is tops in the league, and will be very scary in years to come.
While some teams tend to solve problems through Free Agency, the Predators are becoming known for filling holes on their roster from within.
With a prospect pool that often times gets overlooked, the Predators have been quietly building an impressive core of young players that they hope will help them over the course of the next 10 seasons at least.
Gabriel Bourque emerged towards the end of last season as an offensive threat and carried that play into the playoffs. His stellar play against the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs gave Predators fans hope that this fifth round pick could turn into an offensive powerhouse.
The Predators lineup last season also featured several young players with lots of potential and talent. Names such as Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Nick Spaling will be filling out the Predators lineup for years to come.
Defensively the Predators demonstrated their strength in their confidence in their young corps when Ryan Suter was lured away by the Wild this past summer. With just under half of their projected defensive crew 23 years old or younger, the Predators will have solid defenseman for years to come.
Headlined by Ryan Ellis, who made a splash during his stint in Nashville last season and Roman Josi, the Predators young defensive corps have benefited greatly from the presence of veteran All-Stars as they have developed into the best young defensive group in the nation.
In Philadelphia last season, Claude Giroux established himself as one of the league's best player, dominating teams all season long. Giroux was not the only young star to emerge in Philly last season as the Flyers showed the NHL that they have one of the NHL's top groups of young stars.
Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn all saw significant playing time for the Flyers last year. Throughout the course of the season, they showed that they have the talent needed to become top players at the NHL level.
The Flyers also have other young guns on their roster like Wayne Simmonds who had already proved their ability prior to last season.
In Couturier and Read, the Flyers have two players who can evolve into top line players. The Flyers have the ability to put together a scary top line all under the age of 25 next season. That is something that should not be overlooked at all.
While the Flyers might struggle in other parts of the game besides offensively, Philly is loaded with offensive talent up front. Talent that will be around for a long time as the Flyers boast one of the top young offenses in the NHL.
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