Regardless of the results of the ongoing 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL will soon turn towards a new generation of young stars to decide the dynasties of the coming decades.
Many of the perennial contenders from recent history are in for a wake-up call—the league's caste system seems on the verge off a drastic reordering as new players, and new teams, take over the spotlight.
For years, it's been Sidney, Alex and Patrick (Crosby, Ovechkin and Kane) stealing the show as the icons of hockey. Soon, though, it'll be Taylor and Mika (Hall and Zibanejad), Vladimir and Justin (Tarasenko and Brodin/Faulk), and Jonathan and Robin (Huberdeau and Lehner) seizing that limelight.
The transition towards a new, talent-packed generation of superstars will also lead to a transition in the standings. Franchises that have quietly built for the future will make their exponential rises; franchises more invested in the now (we're looking at you, Philadelphia) will gradually lose their relevancy.
So which clubs are loaded with the most top-tier young talent at the moment and should expect to ride that tidal wave to contender status? We analyze and objectively rank five particularly promising teams on the coming slides.