Steven Stamkos and the 10 Best NHL Players under 22
In recent years, the National Hockey League has had an influx of young talent the likes of which has never been seen before. Young, talented players are being drafted and making an impact before turning 21.
With the new NHL putting a focus on speed and skill, the transition from junior hockey to pro hockey is quicker than ever before.
These 10 players have made a smooth transition into the NHL and all have yet to celebrate their 22nd birthday.
10. Evander Kane, Atlanta Thrashers
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Despite being just a 19-year-old kid, there is nothing Evander Kane cannot do for the Atlanta Thrashers. He scores, he hits and he fights. Kane is a big reason why the Thrashers are one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season.
9. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
In his first full season in the NHL, Logan Couture has stepped into a major role on the San Jose Sharks. With 27 points so far this season and four playoff goals last season, Couture could be the next piece to the puzzle for an offensively-talented San Jose team.
8. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Tyler Seguin has a promising future in the NHL. He has not settled into a major role with the Bruins at this point, but Boston cannot keep a player with Seguin's ability out of the lineup for too long.
7. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images
Another building block to the young foundation of the Edmonton Oilers, Jordan Eberle is exciting to watch.
While not as talented as his teammate Taylor Hall, Eberle makes up for his lack of physical gifts with a nose for the net and creativity in the offensive zone that is valuable to his team. Eberle and Hall could be a dangerous combination in the near future.
6. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall has all of the makings of a franchise player for the Edmonton Oilers. After Hall's prolific junior hockey career, the Edmonton Oilers invested the first-overall draft choice in the Canadian-born winger in hopes that that production would translate to the NHL. So far so good.
5. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner has made an impact quicker than most would have imagined. His 28 points has him tied with Patrick Kane and Mike Cammalleri. Physically he may not be the most gifted player in the league, but he has a rare goal-scoring ability.
4. John Tavares, New York Islanders
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
A gifted offensive playmaker, John Tavares has been an instant star for the New York Islanders. Drafted with the No. 1 overall pick, Tavares has the scoring ability that can be built around.
Unfortunately, the Islanders have failed to put any other pieces around the Canadian center, which has limited his production. But there is no questioning this kid's ability to create chances in the offensive zone.
3. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
The third overall draft choice in 2009, Matt Duchene piled up 55 points in his rookie season with the Colorado Avalanche. A former defenseman in junior college, Duchene is a valuable two-way forward for the upstart Avalanche.
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
At just 21 years old, Drew Doughty is already considered to be one of the league's best defensemen. The No. 2 overall draft choice in 2008 by the Kings, Doughty has emerged as the workhorse of Los Angeles' defensive unit.
Coming off a 59-point season in 2009-10, Doughty is off to another strong start and has Kings fans thinking playoffs.
1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Steven Stamkos is one of the NHL's three best players, along with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Tampa Bay's superstar center has 197 points in his first 200 games in the NHL.
Armed with a laser shot, tremendous skating ability and elite hands, Stamkos is a nightmare for opposing defenses and is the centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Lightning.