7 Teenagers Who Could Be the Future Faces of the NHL
The NHL is lucky to have so many talented teenagers who will become star players that fans will pay lots of money to watch each night.
With so much depth and talent expected to be in the next few draft classes, the level of quality young talent in the NHL will likely rise significantly in the near future.
Let's look at seven teenagers who could be future faces of the NHL.
Note: Only players who have been drafted by NHL teams already were considered for this list.
Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Nail Yakupov was the top pick in the 2012 NHL draft and is going to be an elite offensive player throughout his career.
There are many young, talented forwards on the Edmonton Oilers roster capable of being superstar players, but Yakupov could become the most exciting player of the group because of his goal-scoring ability.
Yakupov is playing for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik of the KHL during the lockout and has scored 10 goals with eight assists in 20 games.
Expect him to become a star player in his rookie season.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Tampa Bay Lightning superstar center Steven Stamkos has helped his team gain a lot of fans over the last few years because of his exciting offensive play, especially his goal scoring.
The Florida Panthers are hoping that top prospect Jonathan Huberdeau can have that same kind of impact on their franchise.
Teams in non-traditional hockey markets need young stars to help build a strong fanbase, and the Panthers haven't had this type of player since Pavel Bure.
Huberdeau's offensive talents will make him a very marketable star not only in Florida, but all around the league.
Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Playing defense isn't as exciting or as glamorous as forwards scoring goals, so it's a bit harder for defensemen to become the megastars that the league heavily promotes.
Since Dougie Hamilton is so good offensively, he does have a chance to become a household name very soon.
The Boston Bruins prospect is a gifted offensive player who joins the rush to score goals and skates very well. He's also not afraid to play a physical style of hockey thanks to his tremendous size and strength.
Hamilton's offensive production in junior hockey has been fantastic over the last two seasons. He has already scored eight goals with 33 assists in just 32 games this season for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL.
Playing for an Original Six team that is expected to be a contender well into the future will help Hamilton become a marketable star in just a few seasons.
Ryan Strome, New York Islanders
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
The New York Islanders are moving to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season and have a number of quality young prospects with star potential.
Center prospect Ryan Strome has been incredible for the Niagara IceDogs this season with an astounding 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists) in just 32 games.
He is an elite offensive talent and will help the Islanders end their playoff drought in the near future. His speed, wrist shot, skating, playmaking and offensive intelligence are all impressive.
Strome is only 19 years old, but he is ready for a top-six role on the Islanders, and they certainly need his offensive skills.
The Islanders had only three players score 50 or more points last season, including P.A. Parenteau, who signed with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent in the summer.
Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Alex Galchenyuk has a good opportunity to become one of the future faces of the NHL because he could be the next superstar of the league's most successful franchise.
The Montreal Canadiens have a potential No. 1 center in Galchenyuk, who is going to be an offensive machine at the NHL level, and possibly a point-per-game type of player in the near future.
Galchenyuk has played well after missing most of last season because of an ACL injury. He has scored 22 goals with 31 assists in 31 games for the OHL's Sarnia Sting.
Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators
Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images
Mika Zibanejad will enter his first full NHL season in 2012-13 and help one of the league's best young teams continue to improve and challenge for a second straight playoff appearance.
The Ottawa Senators are hoping that Mika Zibanejad can become a No. 1 center with his impressive ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice.
He can score goals, be a playmaker and excel defensely with his tough, physical style of play. Zibanejad has seven points (one goal, six assists) in 16 games for the AHL's Binghamton Senators this season.
Expect Zibanejad to earn a permanent spot on the Senators roster this season and play an important role in the team's offense.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Harry How/Getty Images
After tying for the league lead in scoring among rookies last season despite playing in just 62 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins established himself as a legitimate NHL star.
Nugent-Hopkins is a tremendous playmaker who can also score goals consistently. His scoring production will only increase in the next few years since the Oilers have so many talented wingers to play alongside him.
He could become a point-per-game player in the next year or two, and since he will be playing on one of the most exciting teams in the NHL for several more years, expect Nugent-Hopkins to be a superstar player very soon.