NHL Prospects Most Likely to Be All-Stars in the Next 3 Years
The 2015 entry draft is going to have an enormous impact on the NHL by the end of this decade. The draft already boasts some of the game's impressive young names, and it was six months ago. To a lesser extent, the 2014 draft looks like it will be delivering future stars and All-Stars, with some of them already closing in on NHL All-Star honors.
Which newcomers will we see at the All-Star Game in the next three seasons? Look to those two drafts for the answer—the NHL's balance of power is about to change.
Here are the 10 NHL prospects most likely to appear in an All-Star Game in the next three seasons.
Note: Prospects are defined as players with 50 or fewer NHL games at the 2016 All-Star break, while also being eligible for the Calder Trophy. Amateur and draft-eligible players also qualify for this list. Additionally, Dylan Larkin was eligible for the list, but since he is attending this year's All-Star Game, he has already qualified.
10. Auston Matthews, C, ZSC Lions (Swiss NLA)
Draft Day: Auston Matthews is eligible for the 2016 NHL entry draft. He is ranked as the draft's No. 1 prospect by most sources and reflected by Eliteprospects.com.
Where Is He Now? Matthews is dominant in the top Swiss pro league and scored at a goal-per-game clip at the World Junior Championships over Christmas.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? He has to get drafted first, and it is unfair to project rookies as All-Stars. That said, Matthews is a ridiculous talent, and it is not out of the question to suggest he could make the 2019 All-Star team.
9. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Winnipeg Jets
Draft Day: The Winnipeg Jets drafted Nikolaj Ehlers No. 9 overall in the 2014 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? Ehlers took a big step forward offensively in January 2016, scoring seven goals in 12 games, and he's getting into the Calder Trophy conversation.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? He is a dynamic player who appears to be finding the range at the NHL level. The Jets normally bring their youngsters along a little slowly, but he is such an offensive dynamo we shouldn't be surprised to see him at the 2018 All-Star Game.
8. William Nylander, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Draft Day: The Toronto Maple Leafs selected William Nylander in the 2014 NHL draft. He was chosen No. 8 overall.
Where Is He Now? Nylander continues to rip up the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, averaging over a point per game, despite not turning 20 until May of this year.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Nylander is a big part of one of the most dominant minor league teams in many years and should have an immediate NHL impact when he plays in the world's best league. With his offensive tools, he is a smart bet to play in an All-Star Game before 2020.
7. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers
Draft Day: Shayne Gostisbehere was chosen No. 78 overall in the 2012 NHL draft, as the Philadelphia Flyers called the name of the Pembroke Pines, Florida, native.
Where Is He Now? He is quarterbacking breakouts and the power play with the Flyers, and he's very successful at it. His 12 power-play points is tied for No. 1 among rookies—most impressive considering he has played in only 29 games this year.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Defensemen are usually hard to project, but Gostisbehere is 22 and his puck skills are exceptional. It might take him another two years to get there, but he is a good bet to appear by the 2019 midseason event.
6. Noah Hanifin, D, Carolina Hurricanes
Draft Day: The Carolina Hurricanes chose Noah Hanifin No. 5 overall at the 2015 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? Hanifin is in the NHL and playing very well—averaging over 17 minutes a night and owning a possession number over 50 percent. It is extremely rare for a teenage defenseman to handle the NHL with this kind of success.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Because Hanifin is so rare—he will turn 20 in January 2017—finding comparables for him is difficult. It is probable he will progress into an All-Star in the coming seasons and credit to the Hurricanes for finding a combination of minutes and opposition he can handle. Hanifin might be a special player, and the bet here is he makes the All-Star Game in 2018.
5. Max Domi, LW, Arizona Coyotes
Draft Day: The Arizona Coyotes chose Max Domi No. 12 overall in the 2013 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? Domi is in the NHL and having a substantial impact, currently ranked No. 4 in scoring among first-year players. He is among the best power-play forwards in this year's class.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? The Coyotes are an emerging team, and Domi is front and center offensively. There was a chance he would go this season—John Scott got the nod for Arizona, but Domi must have been in the mix—and he is a good bet to get there in 2018.
4. Sam Bennett, C, Calgary Flames
Draft Day: Sam Bennett was selected No. 4 overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft.
Where Is He Now? He is building a strong rookie resume with the Calgary Flames this year, showing his range of skills—including 13 goals in 47 games.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Bennett is a dynamic player, who is quickly establishing himself as an important part of Calgary's even-strength attack. He is somewhat unique among prospects in his range of skills and ability to deliver most of them already, and part of his future is likely an appearance in an All-Star Game. There is a good chance it happens by 2019.
3. Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues
Draft Day: The St. Louis Blues drafted Colton Parayko No. 86 overall in the 2012 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? Parayko made the Blues out of training camp and has emerged as a dynamic player during the season's first half. His 214 total shot attempts and 103 shots on goal are impressive totals for a freshman defender. The shot total towers over the rest of this year's rookie crop.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Unlike most players on this list, Parayko was not a high draft pick, and he did not spike in the years after he was chosen. However, his overall ability should keep him in the lineup, and his shot is an attractive weapon for St. Louis. He should be in an All-Star Game in the next couple of seasons, with 2017 the more likely bet.
2. Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres
Draft Day: Jack Eichel was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? Eichel is enjoying a productive rookie NHL season, ranking No. 2 among rookies in points this year.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? Eichel is already pushing at the NHL level, with his 150 shots on goal in 50 games placing him in a tie for No. 21 overall in the category. He is very likely to be in an All-Star Game in the next three seasons.
1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
Draft Day: Connor McDavid was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 entry draft.
Where Is He Now? McDavid posted 12 points in his first 13 NHL games, but he was injured and has been out since early November. He is expected to return to the lineup in early February, per ESPN.com's Pierre Lebrun.
Where Will He Be In Three Years? McDavid is a generational talent who should be pushing for All-Star appearances and major awards in the next three seasons. His tremendous speed and offensive ability could see him in the race for scoring championships by 2018-19. He is the best bet for a 2017 All-Star appearance among prospects with 50 or fewer NHL games.
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