NHL Top 25 Players Under 25
When Connor McDavid turned 25 on January 13, it opened the door for a revamped “NHL Top 25 Under 25.”
Here’s how we see that taking shape as we near the end of the 2021-22 regular season.
1. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
A Calder Trophy winner in 2017 and the reigning “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goal scorer in 2020-21, Auston Matthews once again leads the way in that category and has an outside shot at the points lead as well. He’s a surefire Hart Trophy candidate and he’d be the first member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to take home that award since 1955.
2. Adam Fox, New York Rangers
Adam Fox was the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman before beginning his third season. The only players to win the award at a younger age are all familiar names: Bobby Orr, Erik Karlsson, and Denis Potvin.
3. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
The player most capable of knocking Fox off the Norris podium anytime soon is Cale Makar. The Colorado Avalanche defenseman leads all players at his position in scoring this season, and has more points than Fox dating back to the beginning of 2020-21.
4. Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
He took some heat for a poor playoff performance in 2021, but only Matthews has recorded more points and averages more points per game than Mitch Marner in the under 25 group over the past three season.
5. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
Last season’s Calder Trophy winner continues to thrive with the Minnesota Wild, averaging more than a point per game and in elecrifying fashion.
Not bad for a fifth round pick in 2015.
6. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes
He may not have the star power of the players mentioned above, but the 35th overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft is right up there with the game’s most prolific point producers.
Among the under 25 crowd, his point per game average ranks 5th over the past two seasons.
7. Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars
There might be a bit of recency bias at play here, but the 2021 Calder Trophy finalist is on fire these days, recently recording back to back hat tricks.
“There may be some work for Robertson to do defensively before he reaches something approaching MVP quality,” writes Michael Clifford of Dobber Hockey, “but he’s honestly not far off.”
8. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames
This winger has emerged as an elite two-way player on one of the NHL’s best line this season.
Matthew Tkachuk is a restricted free agent and will be in line for a massive payday from the Calgary Flames this summer.
9. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks
Since entering the NHL in 2017, Alex DeBrincat has averaged over 36 goals per 82 games played, and would likely be on the verge of his third 40-goal season were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic.
He dropped to the second round in 2016 because of his size, but the Chicago Blackhawks are certainly reaping the benefits of his big stick.
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10. Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes
At only 21 years of age, Andrei Svechnikov coms in as one of the younger players in this group, but the sky is the limit for the second overall pick in 2018.
Svechnikov ranks secind in scoring on the Carolina Hurricanes (behind the aforementioned Aho), and this pair is a reason why this first-place team will be a problem for years to come.
11. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
This Vancouver Canucks defenseman had the look of a player that could challenge Makar and Fox as the head of the next wave of defensemen. While he might not be that elite, Quinn Hughes is still very, very good, and the fact he was taken seventh overall in his draft class is a coup for the Canucks.
12. Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils
Quinn’s brother Jack Hughes is no slouch, either. While his career may have gotten off to a slower than expected start, Hughes is currently displaying all-world skills for the New Jersey Devils and he could very well be at the stp of this list before he turns 25.
13. Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
Many thought Steve Yzerman was reaching when he selected Mo Seider sixth overall in 2019, but the German defenseman is your likely 2022 Calder winner and as the look of another legendary Detroit Red Wings blue liner.
14. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
The shine may have fallen off the 2018 Calder winner through Covid and amid some injuries, but he remains a productive force.
Mathew Barzal is a major reason why the New York Islanders remained successful following the departure of John Tavares – up until this season, at least.
15. Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings
This 19-year-old wnger is another standout rookie for the Red Wings, and he’s outperformed the three players drafted before him in 2020.
16. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, and this undersized forward was a huge reason why.
And he’s only getting started.
17. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks may have plucked the best player in the 2017 Draft at the 5 spot, although Makar probably has something to say about that.
Still, Elias Pettersson, won the Calder in 2019 and after a brief dip to begin this season, he seems to have found his high-end game once again under Bruce Boudreau.
18. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
He might not blow you away with scoring numbers, but he “denies entries against, blocks passes, helps break the puck out, and can jump up into the offence” as one of the best defenders at 5 on 5 around the league.
19. Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks
Is this enough to convince you Trevor Zegras belongs on this list?
If not, his breakout season with the Anaheim Ducks is showing everyone he’s about to fly to new heights.
20. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
Few players around the NHL are as proficient at targeting the net with pucks and the opposition with hits.
Brady Tkachuk is the new captain of the Ottawa Senators for a reason.
21. Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues
This youngster didn’t just shock the hockey world by getting the better of McDavis in the fastest skater competition on All-Star weekend.
Jordan Kyrou also set the record for most points in an outdoor game, showing everyone the St. Louis Blues have a keeper here.
22. Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets
It’s been an up and down career for Patrik Laine, already on his second team after being traded by the Winnipeg Jets to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’s been causing the cannon to fire quite regularly lately, and is proving why there was at least some debate as to who would be drafted first overall between Matthews and Laine.
23. Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
This is a name that might sneak up on some people, but Clayton Keller is quietly emerging as a star for the Arizona Coyotes.
They have few investments in the future right now, but Keller is a guy they can build around.
24. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars reportedly did not want to trade Miro Heiskanen in order to acquire Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators a few years back.
That looks like the right call at this point. He’s as solid as they come.
25. Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres
Finally, the top pick in 2018 took some time to find his footing. Who wouldn’t while playing with the Buffalo Sabres? But Rasmus Dahlin is breaking out in a big way this year, and between him and Owen Power, they should have a stud duo on the blue line for years to come.
Honorable mention: Alex Lafreniere, New York Rangers
Much like Jack Hughes, Lafreniere was highly touted but took some time to develop. The Covid era has been tough on player development all around.
Lafreniere is playing on the top line for the New York Rangers these days, and chances are he’ll be well up this list at this point next year.