In this article I will break down, in my opinion, the NHL teams that are best set for the future. All of the players considered are 25 years of age or younger.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pens are definitely set up front with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Angelo Esposito. They also are strong on defense with youngsters Ryan Whitney and Kris Letang looking good.
2. Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks future is looking bright as all of their top youngsters playing well, in the NHL no less. With Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Chris Kunitz playing consistently playing in the NHL and Bobby Ryan, Drew Miller, and Ryan Carter almost ready to play fulltime in the big show they're definitely set.
3. Los Angeles Kings
LA is going to be a competing team for years to come with the prospects that they have coming up the system and already in the NHL. Up front they're set with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown , and Patrick O' Sullivan. They've also got a strong back end with Jack Johnson and Thomas Hickey who will hopefully pick up some tips from veterans Rob Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky to improve their games.
4. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks are finally looking like contenders for the first time in years. Maybe it's because they finally might be televising home games, but it's most likely because of all the top notch prospects in the system. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lead the charge on offense, both putting up big numbers in their first year in the NHL. Meanwhile, defense wise the Hawks are solid with Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook leading the troops.
5. Nashville Predators
The Predators have been through a lot of controversy lately and have had some real lows, but their future looks bright whether it's played in Nashville or anywhere else. The Predators are loaded with great prospects on D with the likes of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson, and Jonathon Blum in the system. Their best prospect on offense is definitely Alexander Radulov who showed some superb offensive skill last year with the big club.
6. Washington Capitals
The Caps are absolutely loaded with young offensive talent from the all-around great, Alexander Ovechkin to the Swedish set-up man in Nicklas Backstrom to talented right winger, Alexander Semin. They also sport a good young defenseman in Karl Alzner.
7. Boston Bruins
Another one of those Original Six teams that are looking good in the future with young talent galore. Up-front the Bruins boast Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Zach Hamill, and Milan Lucic. The Bruins will also have strong goaltending in the future with Tuuka Rask who they picked up in a trade with the Leafs for Andrew Raycroft. Right about now it looks like the Bruins got the good end of the deal but we'll see what the future brings.
8. St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are looking like one of the top teams going into the future with strong goaltending (Ben Bishop), good defense (Erik Johnson), and great offense ( T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller, and Patrick Berglund).
9. Edmonton Oilers
After the Oilers lost Ryan Smyth last season and Jason Smith in the off-season Oilers fans were in an uproar, but now with some top-notch prospects joining the Oilers the fans will hopefully settle down. All but one of the Oilers five top players under 25 are already playing in the NHL. Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Ales Hemsky, and Dustin Penner are already contributing to the big team while Alex Plante wasn't quite ready to make the jump to the show this year.
10. Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild were my choice for the tenth spot. While this slot could have been taken by a lot of teams, I felt that the Wild were the right pick. The Wild have good prospects in every area of their team. Josh Harding in net, Brent Burns on defense, and Benoit Pouliot, Marian Gaborik, and Colton Gillies on the offensive side of things.
You could argue about these picks all day if you wanted, but this is an opinion article and this is my opinion. I'd love to hear your feedback on this topic. Please post all comments.