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A Look Around the League at the Remarkable Young Players

I've always had interest in the great young talent of players in the NHL ever since I've started watching the NHL. The players are so exciting, whether it's Sid the Kid or Ovechkin you can never get enough out watching some of these remarkable 18-20 year olds. The excitement, effort, and watching them grow makes me really love to watch these kids. After watching the young stars game tonight it was obvious the league's talent is rising very quickly. I think the pool of young players Under 24 or so are greater then ever in the league right now and I felt I should share my opinion on some of the players by addressing rankings and giving props out to organizations for building such great young teams.

The Team Rankings I'll do first, feel free to comment and make your lists. Don't be too hard, it's my personal belief, if you believe I'm overrating someone it's fine with me, it's your opinion. Anyone Who is 24 or Younger I'll include as a Young Player. I'll mainly speak of even younger guys though. And I'll be doing the 10 NHL Teams.

Team Rankings With Analysis

Number One: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers are headlined by Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk. Richards has already put himself as a Top 15 player in the NHL in my eyes as one of the best two way forwards in the NHL as well as one of the best offensivley gifted players in the NHL. He is currently In the Top 15 in Points in the NHL with a few games in hand on most people as well. He is so good in his own zone and is also in The Top 5 in Shorthanded Goals. He has great skill moves on breakaways and plays the Point on the Number One Power Play in the NHL, not to mention he was born a leader. He was the Captain of Canada at the World Juniors, He led the Phantoms to a Calder Cup, and is often compared to Bobby Clarke because of his leadership ability, talent, quietness, passion, and his competativeness. He hates to lose. James van Riemsdyk, The #2 Overall Selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, was easily the best player on the ice at this year's World Juniors. The American is often compared to Brendan Shanahan and Johnny LeClair. He's a big guy who likes to go to the net or use his snappy wrist shot on the rush. Van Riemsdyk is likely to be a force in the NHL and quite possibly a Super Star, he has all the skill that's for sure and should fit right in with his physical style.

The Not only have two of the best young players out there but are loaded everyone else.

Defensivley they are headed by two major to notch young players. One on the team and one in the AHL. Braydon Coburn headlines the team, the #8 Overall selection a few year's back, Coburn has tremendous size and ungodly speed for his size. He can play great defense and block shots as well as skate from end to an end and unload his huge cannon slap shot from point. I've seen many people call Coburn a future Norris Trophy contender and I can certainly see why. The other is First Rounder Ryan Parent, he is a stay at home defensemen who was not on the ice for one goal in his two years playing for Canada at the World Juniors on the top pairing. They also have Offensive Minded Defensemens Oskar Bartulis and Alexander Picard, both have nice talent, especially Picard. They will go through the system and likely see the NHL at some point. Up in Canada they have prospects including Kevin Marshall, who was a second rounder a year ago.

Among Forwards they have too many. Whether it's the big physical guys like RJ Umberger, or the Snipers like Jeff Carter and Joffrey Lupul, or the Playmakers like Claude Giroux, this core brings so much excitement. Prospects include the star here Claude Giroux as well as a Austrian Nodl, many love this kid and some even go as far to compare him to Thomas Vanek. Anyways, Giroux is a Bergeron type player who can put pucks in the Net and has great passes. Jeff Carter and Joffrey Lupul both have 40 goal potential, Carter may get 35 this season and Lupul could've gotten 40 if he had stayed healthy. Then of course there is 1st Rounder and often compared to Rick Tocchet, Steve Downie. The controversial winger is a physical man who battles for loose pucks like no other. He has tremendous heart and despite being 5"10 he is feared by everyone. Sometimes out of control, Downie must learn to stay calm, if he does he could be a 25-30 Goal Scorer who does all the little things for his team. He is a perfect fit in Philly. Other 1st Rounders and young Flyers include Scottie Upshall, Johnathan Matsumoto, Stefan Ruzicka, Ryan Potulny, and Denis Tolpeko.


Number Two: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are headed by top Picks Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnsonand more. Kopitar is one of the best young talents in the NHL without a question, he's such a good skater and unbelivable talent. Whether it's shooting the puck, passing, or crazy moves Kopitar has it all. What a great player and exciting player to watch. I wish more people could get to see this kid, he is really special. Another great player in their organization is Jack Johns on the #3 Overall Selection, he is a great young defensemen who just played in the Young Stars game tonight. He's big, can hit, can play great defense, and chip in up front. Great player.

Down in the system the Kings just drafted Thomas Hickey, #4 Overall, a mistake to take over Alzner, but The Kings still get a very good defensemen in Thomas Hickey. He's a stay at home guy that will do a lot of good things in the NHL I expect. Another big guy down in the system in Goaltender Johnathon Bernier. Regarded as maybe the best Goaltender prospect out there with Casey Price, Bernier is a great young goaltender, and they need a goaltender pretty badly over in LA. Also down in the system includes Trevor Lewis and Brian Boyle. Boyle is a very nice young player, both should be good NHL players. Hickey and Bernier headline them down there though. However, The Kings may be getting Stamkos/Doughty has they currently own the league's worst record. If they got one of them they'd move ahead of the Flyers probably in my opinion.

On the team they have a ton of good young players. Besides Kopitar and Johnson they have 1st Rounder Dustin Brown, Alexander Frolov, and Michael Cammalleri, and Patrick O'Sullivan. Dustin Brown has broken out this season and is a physical player. He score a lot and doe s a lot of little things that will help the Kings out a lot. The Kings have a very bright future in front of them. If they continue to draft well they'll only get better and better and soon will be among the elite teams in the league with all this young talent they have stockpiled up.


Number Three: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins don't have as much depth as the other two teams, but the few guys they have are so good that they make it this high in my books. Obviously they are headlined by the two, already superstars, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Malkin has the size and talent to be a Super Star for a long time in this league, he's best placed at Center and hopefully Pittsburgh can get some better wingers to go along with their three highly drafted centers. Crosby doesn't need much explanation his speed, puck handling, and playmaking abilities tell it all. He's already arguably the best player in the NHL. Although I hate him, he's a great player and I'd take him any day of the week.

Besides those tow they have some first rounders. Most notably they have Jordan Staal, Ryan Whitney, Angelo Esposito, and Colby Armstrong. Staal is the best of the bunch after a phenomenol rookie season he has dropped down this season. Staal is mostly defensive minded, but has some great offensive skill. Armstrong has a great wrist/slot shot. Esposito has bust written all over him, but we shall see. Ryan Whitney is a great offensive defensemen who plays pretty nice Defense as well, not as well as you'd like, but he'll get better. They also have Chris Letang who as emerged himself lately as a great offensive minded Defensemen. He's been playing very well for Pittsburgh. The Penguins could use some younger wingers and more defensive depth when Gonchar has to go, Whitney will obviously step in there, but they need some others and a good young stay at home man. The final guy I'd talk about is #1 Overall Pick Marc-Andre Fleury...he looks great at times and questionable at others. He may have lost his job to Conklin, we shall see.


Number Four: Washington Capitals

The Capitals really have showed this season what they truly have besides Ovechkin. Obviously, we'll start with Alex himself. All the skill and talent in the world. Ovechkin has great speed, moves, puck handling ability, scoring ability, and a wicked slap shot to go with it all. The Russian may be this year's First Half MVP as the Capitals are already showing their young talent may be good enough to win their division, and it might lead to a Ovechkin Hart Trophy. Others on the team include Calder Trophy Hopeful Nicklas Backstrom. The Swedish Explosive Winger was not suppose to be a Top 5 Pick when he was drafted a few years back, however the Capitals made a great decision, as Backstrom is playing amazing. Another guy they have is Alexandre Semin, who has a great snap/wrist shot and great speed. More depth is needed, like the Penguins, for them to move to the top. Tomas Fieschimenn is another player on the team who is a very good young player, he's done pretty well so far and I look for him to get better and better as the season goes along.

They do have some nice guys in the system. Headlined by Canada's WJHC Captain, Defensemen Karl Alzner. He's a great stay at home guy as well as a guy who can setup a PP and chip in offensivley. Probably the best D-Man in last year's draft he slipped to the #5 pick for the Capitals and they easily took him. Alzner is going to be a very good NHL player. Semen Varlamonov is another man is their system. He has great speed and goal scoring potential like Backstrom and Semin. Others in the system include Eric Ferh and Francous Bouchard.


Number Five: Chicago Blackhawks

Tough choice here, I choose the Hawks over the Blues in a tough choice. The Blackhawks won the lottery and picked American Patrick Kane with the number one overall pick and stepped right into the NHL and responded by leading all rookie in points at the ASG break. Kane is small but has tremendous speed and skills. His moves are dazzling at time for a 18 year old and he's an exciting player to watch. Jonathon Toews, the other Blackhawks rookie, was unfortunately injured a few weeks ago hurting his shot at the Clader Trophy. He may have the goal of the season so far and is a great playmaker, IN my opinion he'll be the best player out of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, he was taken Third Overall after Staal and Erik Johnson. Also on the team includes Seabrook and great nice young defensemen who is due for some money at the end of the season, he is the Blackhawks current Number One focus.

In the system they have some nice guys as well. Defensemen Cam Baker headlines this. He was drafted in the Top 5 a few years back. He will soon be a full-time NHLer he's made some call ups for the Blackhawks this season. Jake Skille and Joey Brower are some of the other big time prospects that the Blackhawks have. They will need to have a nice draft to keep the young talent flowing down in the Junior level. They are starting to fall down in the standings so that may happen in the end.

July 28, 2008 5:17 PM ET | Delete
OMG you so have no idea what you are talking about. Painful read.
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