Last Friday, I continued with my top players in the NHL under 25 years of age list. I focused on the Atlantic Division and today I will focus on the Central Division.
Alex DeBrincat, Winger, Chicago Blackhawks: DeBrincat was an offensive machine with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League. He was drafted in the second-round in the 2016 NHL Draft. DeBrincat (20 years old) was a steal for Chicago. He is a very fast skater and DeBrincat is already a top-six forward. In 52 games so far this season, DeBrincat has scored 18 goals and recorded 15 assists. He is going to be a very good role player for years to come and DeBrincat might develop into a super star as well.
Gustav Forsling, Defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks: Forsling (21 years old) is a good two-way defenseman for the Blaackhawks. He will one day be on the top defensive pairing for Chicago. Forsling was a fourth-round pick for the Vancouver Canucks in 2014. Forsling draft rights was traded to Chicago during the middle of the 2014-2015 season. Forsling was playing Sweeden until he started his pro career during the 2016-2017 season. He played in 38 games with Chicago and 30 games with Rockford (AHL). Forsling has scored scored three goals and recorded 10 assists so far this season and played in 41 games.
Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Colorado Avalanche: MacKinnon was the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. In his rookie season, he led the Avalanche to the number one seed in the Central Division and they lost in seven games to the Minnesota Wild in the first-round that season. MacKinnion hasn’t been to the playoffs ever since, but he put the team on his back this season to try and get there. MacKinnon has scored 24 goals and recorded 37 assists so far this season. He is just 22 years old and MacKinnon was named to the All-Star Team again this season. He is one of the most under appreciated players in the NHL.
Mikko Rantanen, Winger, Colorado Avalanche: Rantanen was the tenth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. He is a sniper and has scored 17 goals so far this season. Rantanen has also recorded 33 assists. He is a top-six forward and Rantanen is just 21 years old as well.
Alexander Kerfoot, Center, Colorado Avalanche, Kerfoot was drafted in the fifth-round by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth-round of the 2012 NHL Draft. He played at Harvard University for four seasons and the Devils obviously didn’t keep his rights. Kerfoot is a rookie this season Colorado at 23 years old and he has scored 12 goals and recorded 20 assists so far this season. Kerfoot will most likely be a second line centerman throughout his career.
Connor Hellebuyck, Goalie, Winnipeg Jets: Hellebuyck is one the reasons why the Jets are in first place in the Central Division right now. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Hellebuyck is 24 years old and his record is 27-6-8 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.30 GAA, along with five shutouts. Hellebuyck is improving tremendously and he is the backbone of this Jets. He will be the Jets starting goalie for the next decade.
Patrik Laine, Winger, Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine was the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. At just 19 years old, he has a wicked shot and Laine is a serious threat on the power play. Laine has 13 power-play goals this season and he has 22 overall in his career. Laine has scored 24 goals and recorded 17 assists so far this season. His game is very similar to Alex Ovechkin’s. Laine was named to the All-Star Game this season.
Filip Forsberg, Winger, Nashville Predators: Forsberg is 23 years old and is a sniper. He is probably Nashville’s best offensive player. Even though he has missed some time this season, Forsberg has scored 16 goals and recorded 22 assists. Forsberg was a first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2012. He was traded to Nashville in 2013 and it is obvious Washington made a mistake.