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The amount of young talent in today’s NHL is totally amazing. Many teams are scouting and drafting well as of late. There might be more than 40 players in the NHL under 25 years old that are really good. Because of that, I have decided to cut it down division-by-division.
Here are the top players under 25 years old in the Metropolitan Division:
Mathew Barzal, Center, New York Islanders: Barzal is taking a lot of pressure off of John Tavares this season. Barzal is only a rookie and he is already the Islanders second line center. He has scored 16 goals and recorded 35 assists so far this season. Barzal is one of the candidates to win rookie of the year award. He was a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Barzal’s speed is amazing and his passing is top notch. He has also a good shot and will be a force in the NHL for years to come and Barzal is only 20 years old.
Shayne Gostibehere, Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers: Gostibehere is in his third season with the Flyers and he is on the Flyers top defensive unit. At 24 years old, he quarterbacks the Flyers power play and Gostibehere has scored nine goals and recorded 24 assists so far this season. He should’ve been an all-star but Gostibehere wasn’t. It is very well one day he could be a top-six defenseman in the entire NHL.
Ivan Provorov, Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers: Provorov (21 years old) was drafted seventh overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He is known to be a defensive defenseman, but Provorov also has some offensive pop to his game. This is only his second season in the NHL, but he has scored nine goals and recorded 15 assists so far this season. I am not sure if he will have that kind of offensive production every year, but that’s a bonus for the Flyers. Provorov is already on the top defensive pairing with Shayne Gostibehere and it is one of the reasons why the Flyers season has been revived.
Jake Guentzel, Winger/Center, Pittsburgh Penguins: Guentzel played a huge role in the Pittsburgh Penguins championship run last season. He scored 13 goals and recorded eight assists. Guentzel played a lot on Crosby’s line last season. This season, he hasn’t been with Crosby much but Guentzel is still very effective. Guentzel has scored 15 goals and recorded 10 assists so far this season. He is 23 years old and Guentzel was a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Guentzel can also play center and he has played some of it this season, but Mike Sullivan likes to put him at wing instead.
Matt Murray, Goalie, Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray was a third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. He was phenomenal at the AHL level and a concussion to Marc-Andre Fleury during the end of the 2016 season allowed Murray to get the net and lead Pittsburgh to a championship that season. Marc-Andre Fleury was the goalie to start the 2017 postseason because of a lower-body injury to Murray, but from game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals and on, Murray started and he allowed the Penguins to claim another Stanley Cup in 2017. He posted back-to-back shutouts in game 5 and game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Murray is 23 years old and he has many good years to come. He is really calm in net and nothing phases him. His record so far this season is 15-12-1 with a .903 save percentage and a 2.93 GAA, along with one shutout. Murray will most likely be the Penguins starting goalie for the next decade.
Teuvo Teravinen, Winger, Carolina Hurricanes: Teravinen (23 years old) used to be with the Chicago Blackhawks but the Hurricanes acquired him in a trade during the 2016 offseason. It didn’t make sense for Chicago to trade him because I thought he was going to be a very good player for them. It turns out that he is a very good player for the Hurricanes and Teravinen is one of the reasons why Carolina is in the playoff hunt this season. He has scored 13 goals and recorded 26 assists so far this season.
Sebastian Aho, Winger, Carolina Hurricanes: Aho broke out for the Hurricanes during the middle of his rookie season last year for Caorlina. He scored 24 goals and recorded 25 assists last season for the Hurricanes and so far this season, Aho has scored 16 goals and recorded 21 assists. He is just 20 years old and Aho was drafted in the second-round in the 2015 NHL Draft. Aho is a sniper and he is going to be an elite goal scorer for the next decade. He will have the Hurricanes in playoff contention year in and year out, but at some point Aho is going to have to take his game to another level in order for the Hurricanes to win a second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Noah Hanifin, Defenseman, Carolina Hurricanes: Hanifin was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was selected to his first ever All-Star game this season. At just 21 years old, Hanifin is a very good skater and defenseman. He isn’t bad on offense as well. Hanifin has scored seven goals and recorded 14 assists so far this season. Hanifin is going to be one of the nucleus players for the Hurricanes in the future. Carolina thinks highly of him and they hope Hanifin is one of the reasons why one day they will win another Stanley Cup.
Nico Hischier, Center, New Jersey Devils: Hischier (19 years old) was the number one overall pick in the NHL Draft this past summer. He has scored eight goals and recorded 21 assists so far this season. Hischier is a very good skater and his passing ability is very good and it could be elite one day. It looks as if the Devils made the right move drafting him over Nolan Patrick. Hischier also has the ability to take over a playoff series whenever the Devils make it to the postseason next. He will be getting a big contract when it is all said and done.
Will Butcher, Defenseman, New Jersey Devils: He was signed as a college free agent this past offseason. The Colorado Avalanche had his rights but Butcher had no interest in signing with them. At just 23 years old, Butcher has made the Devils defense look so much better this season. Butcher has only scored two goals but he has also recorded 26 assists. Butcher is very good on the Devils power play and they are ranked 14th in the NHL and the penalty kill is ranked 4th in the NHL so far this season. If Butcher isn’t one the top defensive pairing yet for the Devils, he will be one day.
Zach Werenski, Defenseman, Columbus Blue Jackets: At just 20 years old, Werenski is already developing into one of the elite defenseman in the NHL. Werenski received serious consideration for rookie of the year last season. He only scored 11 goals but Werenski recorded 36 assists last season. Werenski has already matched his total from last season with 11 this season. He also has recorded 11 assists so far this season. Werenski is also very good on defense as well. He replaced his teammate Seth Jones at the All-Star Game because of an illness. Werenski was the eight overall pick in the 2015 Draft and he is also very good on the power play.
Seth Jones, Defenseman, Columbus Blue Jackets: Jones was selected fourth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators, but Jones was traded to Columbus for Ryan Johanson during the middle of the 2015-2016 season. Jones is just 23 years old and he has scored eight goals and recorded 24 assists so far this season. He can sometimes bite on defense and that’s not a good thing. Jones is also good on the power play as well. With him being 6’4″, he can hit opposing players very hard especially when they are coming down the middle of the ice.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Center/Winger, Columbus Blue Jackets: Dubois is 19 years old and he was selected third overall by Columbus in the 2016 NHL Draft. Dubois is a very versatile player. He can play either center or wing, but Dubois has been playing mostly center this season because of the lack of depth at that position. Dubois actually had to play on the top line for some games this season. He is very good defensively and in the face-off circle as well. Dubois has scored 10 goals and recorded 12 assists so far this season.