William Nylander, Connor McDavid lead under-24 rankings; Patrik Laine in a (relative) slide

Here's our weekly look at the fortunes of some of the game's brightest young stars.


Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
The terrific sophomore has opened up a six-point lead in what has been a heated battle for the scoring title as the Oilers continue their quest for home-ice advantage in what will be their first playoff appearance since advancing to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. McDavid's consistency this season has been laudable, but the superstar has picked up the pace down the stretch with 12 points during a current six-game point streak. McDavid, 20, has points in 12 of his last 14 games.

William Nylander, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs
Nylander, the eighth-overall pick in 2014, notched a goal and an assist in a win Thursday over the New Jersey Devils to extend his point streak to a franchise-record 10 games. The Leafs have surged into third place in the Atlantic Division and Nylander, 20, lining up most nights on Auston Matthews' right side, has been a catalyst to this team's unlikely assault on the postseason -- even if he lacks the profile of Matthews and fellow rookie sensation Mitch Marner.

Jeff Skinner, LW, Carolina Hurricanes
It's likely too little, too late for the Hurricanes. Or is it? Their win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday puts them five points out of the last wild-card spot with two games in hand. They've been led on this unlikely surge to the playoffs by 24-year-old Skinner, who has nine goals in his last nine games (plus two assists). The former rookie of the year, selected seventh overall in 2010, has scored in four straight games and is one goal off his career-best of 33, set in 2013-14.


Patrik Laine, RW, Winnipeg Jets
Laine has struggled as the Jets sink out of sight in the playoff race in the Western Conference. The big 19-year-old with the deadly shot has three goals and two assists in his last 10 games, including his 34th goal in a losing effort Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings. So, yes, "cold" is a relative thing. Still, it's hard to imagine Laine and Matthews won't be at the top of the heap when the rookie voting is done -- they rank 1-2 in rookie scoring, as they have for much of the season.

Ryan Strome, C, New York Islanders
In recent weeks, it looked like the fifth-overall pick in 2011 was getting on track for the playoff-hopeful Islanders. But, alas, those moments were fleeting for the 23-year-old and now Strome will be on the shelf with a broken wrist. With the Islanders still in the hunt for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, Strome had managed just one goal and one assist in his last nine games before suffering an injury that will likely keep him out of the Isles lineup until deep in the playoffs (not that anyone expects the Isles to still be playing by then).

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo Sabres
Ristolainen has been one of the lone bright spots on a wildly underachieving team. The 22-year-old has been a workhorse, averaging 26:42 in ice time, fifth-highest in the NHL, and has a more than respectable 44 points. But he's sitting out for three games after being suspended for an ill-advised hit from behind on the Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel earlier this week.

Young guns showdown

David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins versus Josh Ho-Sang, RW, New York Islanders

Saturday, March 25, 7 p.m. ET in Brooklyn

The Bruins have slumped their way toward the edge of the playoff bubble and the Islanders are hoping to take advantage of that slump to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoff grid, and a win Saturday at Barclays Center will go a long way to achieving that goal. Pastrnak, 20, continues to be one of a few Bruins scoring, as he has 32 goals. Meanwhile, folks have stopped griping about Ho-Sang, 21, sporting No. 66 as the highly skilled 28th-overall pick in 2014 has seven points in the 11 games since he's being called up to the big club.