Proud American Hockey League Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks

Our Town Or Team
Buy Tickets


A look at the best 21-and-under NHL talent

07/17/2010 9:42 PM - From (link)

In today's NHL, the premium put on finding young talent has resulted in players getting more opportunity and responsibility at an increasingly early age. While in years gone by, teams would have mandated that young players spend more time in juniors or a couple of years in the minors, today they're giving those kids the chance to play in the NHL -- and many of them are showing they're already capable of being contributors, with the possibility of stardom not far off.

Here's a look at 10 of the NHL's top players who will be 21 and under when the new season faces off in October. We're not just rating potential -- all of them have played at least one full season in the NHL.


Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

Like many youngsters, it took the No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft some time to get his bearings in the NHL. But after scoring 23 times as a rookie, Stamkos took off in 2009-10, tying for the League lead in goals with 51 and finishing fifth in the points race with 95.  He was the runaway leader in power-play goals with 24 (no one else had more than 18), and with veterans like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, Stamkos gives new Lightning GM Steve Yzerman a solid foundation to build on.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

As he prepares for his fourth NHL season, Kane (who will outgrow this group in November) has already had enough thrills to last for a career. The No. 1 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft won the Calder Trophy in 2008, then helped the United States to a silver medal at the Winter Olympics in February before scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime four months later. He's coming off a 34-goal, 88-point season and appears ready to be an elite player for years to come.

John Tavares, New York Islanders

Tavares, one of the most heralded junior players in years, stepped right into the NHL after being taken No. 1 in the 2009 Entry Draft and gave the Isles -- last in the overall standings in '08-09 -- an offensive boost. He didn't tear up the League, but he did finish with 24 goals, 30 assists and the promise of a lot more to come as he gets stronger and smarter. The Isles are banking on Tavares to be the cornerstone of their rebuilding efforts.

Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

Despite a late-season offensive slump, the Avs were more than happy with what they saw from Duchene, whom they selected with the No. 3 pick in 2009. The speedy center finished with 24 goals and a rookie-leading 55 points in 81 games, helping the Avalanche improve from last in the Western Conference in 2008-09 to a playoff team last spring.

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

Bailey is the only 2008-selected forward other than Stamkos to play two seasons in the NHL. He's still got some growing to do, but the Islanders can't be displeased with what they've seen so far. The 20-year-old, picked No. 9 in '08 after the Isles traded down twice, had 16 goals and 35 points in his second NHL season and showed signs that he's going to be a big part of the future on Long Island.


Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

The Kings had to "settle" for taking Doughty with the No. 2 pick in 2008 after Tampa Bay grabbed Stamkos at No. 1. But don't cry for GM Dean Lombardi -- Doughty has become the linchpin of the vastly improved Kings. At age 20, he's already their best defensemen, was a Norris Trophy finalist this past season after scoring 16 goals and 59 points, and owns a gold medal after helping Team Canada win the title at the Winter Olympics.

Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres

Myers went to the Sabres 10 picks after the Kings chose Doughty, and both appear headed for stardom. Myers spent 2008-09 in junior hockey, but made an immediate impact this past season with 11 goals and 48 points while averaging 23:44 of ice time. At 6-foot-8, he's hard to get around, and he's only going to get better as he matures.

Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers

Del Zotto, selected No. 20 in 2008, was an immediate sensation on Broadway, getting off to the kind of start Rangers fans hadn't seen from a defenseman in years. He slowed down somewhat as the season went along but still averaged nearly 19 minutes of ice time in 80 games and finished with 9 goals and 37 points, leading New York's defensemen in both departments.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

The No. 2 pick in the 2009 Entry Draft had some ups and downs in his first NHL season, but showed the Lightning they weren't wrong to have picked him that high. Hedman, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder, had 4 goals and 20 points from the blue line as a rookie while averaging 20:50 of ice time in 74 games. Defensemen usually take longer to blossom than forwards, and Hedman showed every sign of being a building block for the Lightning's blue line.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

The Senators probably got more than they expected last season from Karlsson, a Swede who was the 15th choice in the 2008 draft. Karlsson worked his way into a regular spot on the blue line and never gave it back, finishing with 5 goals and 26 points while averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time in 60 games. In the playoffs, he had 6 points in six games and saw an average of 25:51 of ice time. The addition of Sergei Gonchar should speed his development this season.

Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200