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Top 25 under 25: Ranking the NHL's best young players

Seth Jones is emerging as one of the league's best defensemen. Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire

The NHL is increasingly controlled by the young players. Connor McDavid's grip on the league only tightened last season, but the wave right behind him led by Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are spreading the influence of the NHL's youngsters.

Heading into the 2018-19 season, here's a look at my top 25 players under the age of 25.

  • All players must be 24 years old or younger by opening night of the NHL season.

  • Players who still have Calder Trophy eligibility are not included.

  • Current body of work is the biggest factor in ranking players, but I'm also considering long-term upside and my expectations for their performance in the forthcoming season.

Note: Statistics for this piece were compiled with the help of hockey-reference.com, NHL.com and EliteProspects.com.


1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

Age: 21

There's not much sense in overthinking it here. McDavid not only is the best player under 25 in the league, he might be the best player, period. Back-to-back scoring titles in his only two full seasons in the NHL, a Hart Trophy, two Ted Lindsay awards and a pair of first-team All-Star selections -- along with a 1.21 points-per-game average for his brief career -- puts him well above his peers. He led the NHL last season in even-strength goals with 35, and his 108 points in 2017-18 ranks ninth all time by a player under the age of 21 in a single season. On top of his gaudy numbers, McDavid brings entertainment value with otherworldly speed, slick puck skills and a deadly finish. He is setting a new bar for excellence in modern hockey while leading the NHL's wave of exciting young talent.