The NHL Gets Younger Every Season, So Who Sits Where in the NHL Top 20 Under 20? Well, We are Here to Let You Know!
With the average age of NHL players this year between 28 and 25 years of age. It’s definitely become a young man’s game. In this article, we will be counting down the NHL top 20 under 20. Some players you may already know where they rank, as where others you may be surprised.
The way this will work is any player with 10 games or less will be ranked by points. Players with 30 games or less will be ranked by games played and players who have played 30 or more games will be decided with points-per-game averages.
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Next year the NHL will be even younger, so a new list will be coming when it’s appropriate. As for now, we are only going to focus on 20 and under players who have played this season and last. So who will rank first and who will sit at number 20? Let’s find out!
D, Frolunda HC (SHL)
Jacob Larsson is one of Anaheim’s top prospects that plays on the backend. He’s only appeared in four games with the big club this season but unfortunately didn’t register a single point. But don’t let that discourage you, his potential ceiling is amazingly high. He’s a very explosive defenseman that will soon challenge for a top four spot in the lineup. Until than Larsson will continue to perfect the other aspects of his game in the AHL and back home in Finland when he’s loaned to Frolunda HC of the SHL.
C, Erie (OHL)
The Coyotes have been going crazy this season with the youth movement. Everyone thought this would be the year Dylan Strome took over the number one center position with the club, but after seven games played he was sent back down to Erie of the OHL. And since then he’s been on fire putting up a staggering 50 points in just 22 games. He will be with the big club next season, and him playing between the likes of Max Domi and Radim Vrbata (if not traded) will be a very serious line. However, if Vrbata is moved Christian Dvorak has the ability to fill that line or even Anthony Duclair. So however you want to look at things, Arizona is going to be a solid team next year. And Strome is going to lead the way, he’s just too skilled not to.
RW/C, Springfield (AHL)
Another Arizona player making his debut on this list (where there is quite a few) Christian Fischer played only three games this season for the Yotes but in doing so scored two points. However, down in Tucson (the Coyotes AHL club), he’s put up 36 points in 40 games. He’s a complete forward who has a consistent play and is always responsible at both ends of the ice.
Joel Eriksson Ek
C/LW, Farjestad BK (SHL)
Joel Eriksson Ek showed us all in this year’s World Junior Tournament that he’s a serious offensive threat. And in the nine games he played with the Wild he put up five points before being loaned to Farjestad BK of the SHL. His potential is amazing, he has the skill to fill a top six role and be a forty plus point player. He’s an offensive catalyst but also plays a 200-foot game due to his high intelligence.
RW, Karpat (Liiga)
Edmonton’s fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, Jesse Puljujarvi has struggled in his first pro season, he only put up eight points in 28 NHL games. But while with Bakersfield of the AHL he’s done quite well scoring 13 points in 17 games. But don’t let his NHL output for this season discourage you, Jesse is still a top notch forward he’s a solid playmaker, scorer, 200-foot player, and doesn’t shy away from the physical game. His potential is amazing, he can easily fill a top a second or first line role as he progress’ to the North American game, so don’t count this kid out just yet.
NHL Power Rankings: Arizona Coyotes center Ryan White (25) celebrates with left wing Jordan Martinook (48) and left wing Lawson Crouse (67) after scoring a goal in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
LW, Portland (AHL)
Another influential piece to the Coyotes youth movement is grinding forward Lawson Crouse who has played 49 games this season scoring eight points. While he won’t score a mass amount of points every year, what he will do is grind down the teams best players. What some people may not know is that Crouse has great passing skills though as well as a very powerful shot. Arizona looks very good when it comes to the future and some of their key pieces are getting experience now while they can, despite the club sitting in second last in the overall standings. But due to this planning by the Coyotes, their younger players get some much-needed experience while placing the team in perfect contention for a lottery pick in this year’s draft.
C/RW, Springfield (AHL)
An offensively gifted forward, Denis Malgin has played 39 games this year scoring eight points. While down with Springfield of the AHL he’s played 13 games and totaled eight points so far. Malgin is blessed with a strong hockey sense as well as slick hands and great puck control. Despite being on the rather small side, Malgin will be physically and defensively making him a great top nine forward for the Panthers future.
D, Sarnia (OHL)
Son of legendary player Jeff Chychrun, Jakob has proven to be a solid defenseman so far this year with the Coyotes. And so far throughout 44 games, he’s put up a respectable 11 points. Jakob is a talented two-way defenseman, meaning he will do what is needed in the offensive zone and show his poise and responsibility in the defensive zone. Due to his constant pressure and unrelenting presence, he’ll make the opposition make mistakes on which he can capitalize on and help his team capitalize on. Behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Michael Stone sits Jakob Chychrun.
D, Carolina (NHL)
Right beside Jaccob Slavin is Noah Hanifin, both these guys, especially Noah lead the way for the Hurricanes defensively when it comes to youth. Noah’s a dynamic two-way defenseman who has such much potential and promise that as of now, no scouts can find any holes in his game. He has tremendous skating, puck handling abilities, as well as puck moving abilities and he doesn’t shy away from the physical stuff either. And that’s helped him stay with the big club as he’s played in 133 career games totaling 37 points.
W/C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Out of all of the Islanders top prospects, Anthony Beauvillier managed to stick it out with the big club all season, that should tell you how talented this kid is. He’s a dynamic scorer with a tremendous hockey sense and nose for the net. When it comes to the offensive side of the game, he can beat defenders in any way possible due to his amazing speed and creativity. The only thing he does need to work on, however, is his strength and discipline. But so far he’s managed quite well this year in Long Island playing in 44 games netting himself 14 points.
Sep 21, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (79) during a preseason game against the New York Islanders at PPL Center. The Flyers defeated the Islanders, 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
C/LW, Sarnia (OHL)
With Sergey Kalinin now off to Toronto, Pavel Zacha holds the top spot as the Devils number one prospect. Like the man before him on this list, Zacha is also an offensive dynamo. His size is great for the professional game which means due to his already massive skill set, he’s going to become a serious NHL player in the future. He can also play physically but he’s really at his best when it comes to the offense, his shot, skating, and stickhandling is amazing. He’s truly a dangerous player and that’s been proven a fair amount of times last season (when he had a brief stint) and this year as he’s played 52 career games scoring 18 points.
D, Brandon (WHL)
As dynamic as they come for a defenseman of his age group, Ivan Provorov is a key cog in the success of the Flyers as well as last year’s standout in Shayne Gostisbehere. With these two on the backend and being as young as they are, the Flyers are in a really great position moving forward with the backend. With the ability to direct play as he wishes due to his tremendous poise, stick handling and passing. Provorov is going to be a threat for a long time, cause this kid can also skate very well and knows when and how to score.
C/RW, Sarnia (OHL)
Everyone had their eyes on Nick Cousins being Philly’s top prospect, then came Travis Konecny. This kid will literally do what ever it takes to win a game, he’ll crash the net, get physical outskate the opposition or just fire the puck. He’s a dynamic game changer who is extremely hard to play against due to that fact he’s also great in all three zones of the ice. And so far this year he’s managed all of his time with the big club (despite being injured for the past bit) but he’s still played in 51 games scoring 22 points.
W/C, Karpat (Liiga)
Sebastian Aho has had a great season so far, while some looked at him playing down in Charlotte (the Hurricanes AHL affiliate), others looked at him sticking it out with Carolina, and he has. This year he’s played in 55 games scoring 32 points. Pretty solid for a first-year player, what else is great for the organization is he often plays top line minutes even though he spends the majority of his time on the second line so what does that say about his talent? His ability as a two-way player is outstanding, he can stop goals from going in just as good as he can put them in. He’s also very durable, he can play center or either wing position due to his high hockey I.Q and ability to dictate how the game should be. Next year you’ll see Aho playing full-time first line minutes alongside Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner.
D, Lake Erie (AHL)
For the better part of the year, all the talk was about Zach Werenski, which was well deserved he was in rookie title contention and rightfully so. This kid can play, his smooth skating and outstanding puck moving give him the opportunity to excel in the toughest of positions. And when under pressure, he plays even better which is scary if you find yourself on the opposite side of the ice. He brings his A game every single night and in doing so he’s scored 36 points in 58 games so far this year.
NHL Power Rankings: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) yells out instructions before taking a face-off against the Dallas Stars at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Stars 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
LW, London (OHL)
When the Flames drafted center, Sam Bennett, they needed a winger who was young enough to play with him so they went out and got Matthew Tkachuk. And so far he’s been amazing for Calgary even in junior he played with a pro style to his game which is partly due to the fact that his father Keith Tkachuk would take him to team practices. This has allowed Matt to develop a strong nose for the net as well as solid skating and puck handling abilities. Plus to top it off he also plays like his dad a little bit as well, he’ll play that rough and tumble game and take things to the dirty areas of the ice to better his team. All of that combined with his work ethic and commitment to the sport has Matt as one of the top prospects in his age groups and players for the Flames, now imagine what the future will bring.
C, ZSC Lions (NLA)
How is the number one pick from 2016 sitting at number four on this list? Well, rules were set out and they must be followed. But don’t let that stray you away, this kid is as dynamic as they come. One of the best Leafs players to ever touch the ice in a very long time. The fact he’s accomplished what he has this season with two other rookies on both sides of him (Connor Brown and Zach Hyman), Auston Matthews has been up to par with everyone and in some cases even beyond. His record of four goals in his first ever NHL game might not be surpassed for quite some time also. He’s going to be the future captain of the young Leafs and eventual first line center. His maturity is probably his strongest asset, the way he talks and carries himself you would think he’s in his mid-thirties and has been a pro for ten plus years. But nope, this kids a fresh rookie with a straight head on his shoulders. And his play is even better, theirs nothing Matthews cannot do and so far in his rookie campaign he sits with 49 points in 58 games.
C/RW, London (OHL)
Another top end prospect for the Maple Leafs appears at number three. Mitch Marner has been going back and forth with Patrik Laine for the rookie lead in points for the better half of two months. And rightfully so, Marner was NHL ready last year but management thought one more year of development and it ended up paying off in spades. Spending majority of his ice time along with veterans Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, Marner has been great, he possesses an elite level skill set which is finely-tuned for every aspect of the game. Like Matthews, he has no holes to his game he does everything very well and is often relied upon is some of the tricky situations that call for a goal. So far through his first NHL season, Mitch has put up 48 points in 56 games giving him a slight points-per-game average lead over his teammate with 0.86 compared to Auston’s 0.84.
LW/RW, Tappara (Liiga)
Winnipeg felt at the draft that they had gotten the better player, which as it stands right now they weren’t wrong. Patrik Laine leads all rookies in points with 52 in 54 games. With an Alex Ovechkin-like shot, Laine is dangerous wherever he finds himself in the offensive zone. He also has a strong backcheck making him quite effective on the defensive end as well. As the years go on, Laine is just going to get better and better and will most likely be a league leader in goals as Ovechkin passes the torch down to Patrik. With Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on that top line with Laine and being quite young themselves, Winnipeg is going to have one of the best top lines in all of hockey for plenty of years to come.
C, Edmonton (NHL)
Not surprising to see Connor at number one, he is the greatest player in the game right now rivaling Sidney Crosby and leading the league in scoring with 67 points in 59 games. With him now at the helm of the Oilers they are poised to make a playoff run for the first time in a long time. They went out and filled some much-needed gaps though but regardless without Connor McDavid on this team it’s really hard to imagine Edmonton being in this same position. The fact he put up 48 points in 45 games before suffering an injury had everyone in the belief that this kid is going to be the next great one. And he’s yet to disappoint, one of the most entertaining and electrifying players in the game today Connor dazzles the most when he’s pulling off the unthinkable at top end speed. And let’s not forget his passing skills either, you could blindfold him and he’d still put the puck on your stick from 150 feet away. And he’s still only 20 years old. Edmonton isn’t the only thing that looks bright in the future, the whole NHL, as well as McDavid, do too.
Every single one of these players on this list are stars for their respective clubs, and cornerstone players. And as old veterans retire these new kids have jobs to fill, and they’ll do it with ease. The NHL gets younger and faster every season, and with players like this, it’s only going to get more exciting as the years go on!